Re-imagining Cody Decker

The first Cody Decker video I saw was Brad. Though I was amused, my immediate reaction was “who the fuck does this guy think he is?” Shouldn’t a career minor leaguer be working on his game rather than spending hours making tacky YouTube videos? Then, I peeped this interview with Keith Olbermann and my distaste for Decker went to a new level.

In the video, he appears in the outfit you see on the right and generally acts like Troy McClure from the Simpsons. “What justifies this dude’s arrogance?” I said to myself. He’s representing the organization, and acting like a jabronie on TV makes jabronies of us all. I wrote Decker off and, this being 2013, went back to cheering for Chris Denorfia, a real ballplayer.

So, spring training rolls around this year and Decker reignites my interest in him with a grand slam in a 10-3 win over the Rockies. I was in a good mood ‘cause grand slams are sick and the Rockies are fucking lame, so I decided to give open my narrow-ass mind and give Decker another look. Armed with the search engine “Google” I looked for some more Cody related media. First, I found this interview he did with some awkward kid. He spent a god-damned hour talking to that fool. To me, that shows humility and generosity. My perspective on Cody was starting to change. Then, I posted up on an interview from the Chihuahuas. What I once saw as arrogance, I now recognized as self-deprecation. Maybe I was the jabronie.

I then decided I should put my FanGraphs hat on an investigate something of substance rather than all this superficial bullshit. Cody has been in the minor leagues since 2009, so he’s spent 6 full seasons there, with the last two being at AAA Tuscon/El Paso. During that time he’s posted a less than impressive .268 batting average, but a notable .880 OPS and a total of 133 home runs.   For some comparison, two of the best National League first basemen, Adrian “I love carne asada burittos” Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo posted .813 and .914 OPS respectively during their time in the minors. Of course there are other statistical factors to analyze. But, in at least one category that measures power and the ability to get on base, Decker’s minor league numbers are comparable to at least two respected-ass major leaguers. That’s tight.

So, in light of me giving an actual damn and not being an asshole, I needed to reconsider my opinion of Decker. He’s our Crash Davis. Who cares if he spends time pursuing a hobby? His numbers show he’s no slouch, and that his off-the-field interests don’t get in the way of working hard.

I hope Decker makes the team. In fact, since a friend of mine recently returned from Peoria and reported that he was “hella nice,” he’s become one of my favorite Padre prospects.

Unfortunately, I can’t imagine a scenario in which he makes the team. For five bench spots we probably have Maybin, Venable, Barmes, Solarte and a backup catcher. I don’t think Cody could displace any of the first four, so that means he’d have to make it as a backup catcher. He has been taking reps at that position, but he’s probably not solid enough defensively yet (considering we’d want someone adept at defense to complement the offensive minded Derek Norris). There’s also the fact that Tommy Medica has been hot as hell and can play similar positions to Decker.

Still, Decker has already gotten 16 ABs this spring, which is as many as his 2013 and 2014 spring ABs combined. So, AJ is definitely giving Decker a long look, and Cody is taking that opportunity and impressing the fuck out of everyone.

Not that he gives a fuck about me, but I owe Cody Decker an apology. I don’t like show-offs, but what Decker puts out there to the world isn’t simple arrogance. He’s a talented ass dude who enjoys being the heel and fucking around. I doubt Cody will break camp with the team, but I’d bet my ass that he will make his MLB debut before the season is over and contribute something significant to the Padres.