Will the Texas Rangers Experience the Year of Rougned Odor in 2015?

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Last season, after trading Ian Kinsler (who then hoped his former club would go 0-162), the Texas Rangers were all set to make Jurickson Profar their everyday second baseman. Unfortunately for us, Profar is made of glass and spent all of last season–and will spend all of this season–on the disabled list. Enter 21-year old Rougned Odor, who put up decent numbers in his first season in the bigs, batting .259 with nine home runs and 48 rbi. This season Odor will be manning second again, and we could be in for a treat in Arlington.

While those numbers aren’t eye-popping, they’re solid for a then 20-year old middle infielder. This spring Odor has dazzled in Rangers’ camp, batting .350 with a .381 on-base percentage. If Odor is able to get on base anywhere near this clip in the regular season, the Texas Rangers offense should be able to produce plenty of runs to help make up for their seemingly mediocre pitching staff.

One factor that we should keep an eye on this season is his strikeout total. Last season in 386 at-bats, he struck out 18.25% of the time, which seems a bit high given his position. This month in Surprise, he has lowered that rate to 17.5. While this isn’t a huge jump, it is definitely trending in the right direction.

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FanGraphs has Odor projected with an average of .256 with 12 homers and 55 rbi this season according to their Steamer. They also have his strikeout percentage dropping to 16.3%. In Baseball Prospectus’ yearly guide, they wrote of Odor, “He is a talented and supremely confident player, capable of hitting for a high average with surprising pop and above-average defense at the keystone. He’s the kind of player Mariners, A’s, Astros and Angels fans will grow to despise, yet respect.”

Also on FanGraphs, they list Odor’s swinging strike percentage as just 7.4, which means that when he swings, he generally makes contact. He is the type of hitter that will foul pitches off over and over to get a pitch that he can handle, which will frustrate pitchers and benefit the rest of the Texas Rangers lineup.

Hopefully we’ll see Odor in the nine spot to set up Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus when the lineup turns over. That trio hitting in front of a healthy Shin-Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder is likely to put up some crooked innings.

While Odor won’t be the linchpin of the Texas offense, I do think that what he brings to the table will benefit the team greatly in 2015. My prediction for Odor is a .273 average, 14 home runs, 68 rbi and 76 runs. If he gets around 600 at-bats this season, those power numbers are completely reasonable, with his batting average being the biggest question mark. Call the .273 a hunch.

Before the divisional foes grow to begrudgingly respect Rougned Odor, he’s going to endear himself to Texas Rangers fans this season.

Next: Do the Texas Rangers Have a Bargain in Gallardo?

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