When the San Diego Padres took Allen Córdoba in the Rule 5 Draft back in 2017 I was blogging for a Cardinals website and simply baffled. Not that Córdoba hadn’t played well and displayed potential, but to take a guy out of the Rookie Leagues and throw him in the MLB was a bold strategy.
Patience was always going to be key with Córdoba. When he slashed .208/.282/.297 in the majors in 2017, it confirmed what I thought I had known. He wasn’t ready. But, again, patience. Córdoba was sent to Advanced A only to struggle once again in 2018 in limited time thanks to injury.
Welcome to 2019, and Córdoba is healthy and Córdoba-ing again. To give you snapshot of what that looked like the in his dominating year before he got taken by the Padres, when he slashed .362/.427/.495., we take a trip to Baseball Savant for his spray chart from that year.
You can see that Córdoba was able to spread the ball around the field fairly evenly. From a numbers perspective, this year is very similar to 2016. Per Fangraphs, he jumps from 38.7 pull percentage in 2016 to 40.8 percent this year. Last year in Advanced A, he pulled the ball 46 percent of the time. Using the whole field has helped his numbers. Here is Córdoba’s spray chart for 2019:
You may note the addition of the homeruns if you want, but I wouldn’t. He has tied his career high this year with four.
Comparing this year and last year is a good way to measure difference because he is at the same level. Keep in mind we are comparing only 45 games from 2018 because of injury, whereas he’s played 79 so far this year. Even with that being the case, he is showing out as a different player at the plate. His BB rate has doubled from 2.4 percent to five percent and his K rate is down to 17 percent from 28 percent last year.
You can call it health, confidence, or whatever you would like. It’s working. His wRC+ has jumped from 41 last year to 125 this year. Everything is better. Even his speed is on display again. He stole bases 22 in 2016, a combined five in 2017-2018, and he’s now at 29 this year.
Córdoba is still only 23, so there is still plenty of time for him to become a decent player at the MLB level. His defensive versatility means he just needs to produce with the bat. He might be off a lot of radars, but don’t be surprised if he forces his way back into your peripherals over the next year or two. Frankly, he should be able to advance quickly once he proves to be on the right track.