Is the Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor Destined to be a Star?
By Lee Stitzel
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rougned Odor is flat out exciting. It is always exciting when prospects get called up. Most prospects struggle a little when arriving at the show. The talent is better and the stage is enormous but Odor has been a solid piece for the Texas Rangers early in the year despite being the youngest player in the majors. Odor certainly has not been the star as some other highly touted prospects have been soon after their call ups but he has given Rangers fans a lot about which to be excited. Can Odor be a star at the major league level? It is still early to say but three things stand out about Rougned’s performance over his first 61 plate appearances.
First, Odor has not been phased by the big leagues at all. The kid has exactly the right amount of swagger. He exudes confidence and his approach to the game is excellent. Odor’s at bats are the most fun thing to watch other a Yu Darvish start. There is not a Ranger who is more exciting in the box right now. It looks like he really believes that he belongs in the major leagues. Not being intimidated by the major leagues is an important factor in the development of a young player. Odor knows that he is going to stay in major leagues. This may be the most important thing Odor could show the Rangers at this stage of his development.
Second, Odor appears to have all the tools. He has not been the best second baseman in the majors but he has held his own. For the season his WAR is 0.0 indicating that he has been exactly replacement level so far in 2014. For a 20 year old playing in his first appearance at the major league level that is hardly disappointing. His season wRC+ is 96 or roughly average. A rookie producing at the major league average has to make the team happy. Odor’s defense has been a respectable -0.2 as measured by Fangraphs’s DEF statistic which takes into account many factors of defense. Yes it is negative but it also 11th among 19 second baseman with at least 140 innings. Odor’s UZR is also 11th of 19 American League second baseman. Odor’s UZR is better than several notable defenders including Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve and Jason Kipnis. This means realistically Odor’s defense is average for second base.
Even more interesting is how Odor stacks up compared to everyone else over the last two weeks. Odor is 5th in WAR among AL second basemen and 3rd in wRC+. His 135 wRC+ over the last two weeks is a great sign. Odor has demonstrated serious power over the last two weeks with consistent doubles and a high average.
Third, Odor does have some potential issues. Most notably, he has not been patient at the plate. His season long OBP is a terrible 288 which stems mostly from his decent 285 average. Odor has demonstrated power and a great hit tool but he does not take his walks. This is likely a symptom of being a young aggressive player but it is cause for some concern. One thing that mitigates this concern is Odor’s improving plate discipline. Odor’s outside of the zone swing rate was a high 37.5% over the last 30 days, which was 6th highest among AL second basemen with at least 20 plate appearances for that time period. Odor however, has shown excellent improvement, his O-swing is down to 31% over the last two weeks. This is 7th lowest among AL second basemen with at least 20 plate appearances. Of course, this new discipline has coincided with his spike in offensive production so hopefully he has made the adjustment and will be a big time producer for the rest of the year.
So what have we learned about Rougned Odor in his first month of play? He has tools and he has attitude. Odor has flashed some very exciting potential, including a 4 hit, 5 RBI day against the Detroit Tigers. Odor has the stuff. He might end up a capable defender and an excellent offensive player. Perhaps we have a star in the making.