The Importance of Rougned Odor

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Allow me to take you back to September 2nd 2012. The Texas Rangers were cruising to what appeared to be a third consecutive division title, Josh Hamilton was still hitting lots of home runs, and the MLB’s top prospect Jurickson Profar was making his major league debut. In his first major league at bat, Profar belted a home run to right field to put the Rangers up 1-0 in the third inning. Profar would go on to play in eight games during the rest of the season, 85 in 2013, and then in 2014 he was lost to injury. 2014 was supposed to be Profar’s big year. He was given the starting role at second base when Ian Kinsler was traded to Detroit for Prince Fielder. A shoulder injury kept him off the field for the entire season. Still, the Rangers didn’t miss a beat at second base for the 2014 season.

The Opening Day second baseman was Donnie Murphy,  who was not a great replacement. The Rangers were struggling with what to do at that spot. They couldn’t have someone batting .196 as their starter all season. Now flash forward to May 8th 2014. The Rangers were in third place at two games back and a win the previous night had taken them to one game over .500. Ron Washington was still the manager, Prince Fielder was still manning first base, and Matt Harrison was making his season debut after significant offseason surgery. Also making his debut that day was Rougned Odor at age 20, who went 0-4 seeing 10 pitches in his four at bats.

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Odor wasn’t supposed to see the MLB for another few years still. In 2014 he was the youngest player to play in the American League. He was seen as a good prospect, but he wasn’t MLB ready, or even close. Odor began the season at AA Frisco, where he had ended 2013. Bringing Odor to the major leagues seemed like a temporary move, almost what they had done with

Joey Gallo

this season, but Odor was able to stick. He hit .259 with nine home runs and seven triples in 114 games that season. Odor was able to come up to the majors and produce at a high level at a time when the roster was ever changing. It was not the season that Odor wanted, but he made the most of it and was slated as the starter for the spot this year.

Projected by many as a breakout player for this season, Odor struggled. After about a month of play, Roogie was hitting .188 and was committing errors at a high rate.Odor walked at an alarmingly low 6.8% and struck out at a 24.3% clip. He needed a break and was able to get one when he was sent down to AAA Round Rock on May 11th. Odor played 30 games for the Express and was able to start driving the ball. His errors went away and he started walking more and striking out less. Over that 30 game span, he was able to hit .352 with 5 home runs. His OPS was 1.065 in his time in Round Rock. It looked as if Odor was having a lost season.

Jul 2, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) slides safely into third base after a throwing error in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Texas Rangers defeated Baltimore Orioles 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

On June 15, Odor was recalled for a home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs and sparked the team to a victory. He came back up when the team was starting to make their run up the standings, and was a big part of the push. Since Odor was recalled, he has hit .362 with four home runs and 19 RBIs. Odor’s time at Triple A helped him cut his strikeout rate to 10.6% rate. His fielding is cleaned up and he has been making difficult plays look smooth and easy. He still isn’t walking at a great rate (5.8%), but he is hitting at a remarkable clip. This is the Rougned Odor that the Rangers saw last season. They knew he had this potential, but they had to wait until he matured.

When Odor really showed his importance to the team was Saturday night. He launched a home run into the second deck in the third inning to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. He celebrated the home run like it was his first with a big bat flip and an energetic high five. The Houston Astros didn’t appreciate it. Later in the game he took a long time to get in the batter’s box, which catcher Hank Conger took exception to. Odor went on to finish off the at bat with a triple, which he also had a big bat flip on. Odor’s antics frustrated the Astros and sparked the Rangers to a needed victory.

May 10, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) catches a pop fly in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

This energy and flair that Odor brings is something that the Rangers have not had since the early days of Elvis Andrus in the lineup. The excitement that he brings is what the Rangers have been missing from the team. Odor’s energy is vital to a push that the Rangers are going to make this season. Without Odor, the Rangers seem flat. With his new approach of “selective aggressiveness” Odor is picking at bats in which he is swinging for a big hit. In other at bats he is looking to take to take and just reachbase. His approach is different from at bat to at bat. This was not something he was doing earlier this season.

Rougned Odor is vital to the Texas Rangers. He looks to be the second baseman for years to come for the team. With his batting average coming back up to .255 on the season, it’s easy to see why Jeff Bannister wants him up at the top of the lineup setting the table for Fielder and Adrian Beltre. The 21 year old is the hottest hitter on the team and is just the spark that they needed right now. If his gritty performances can continue like he had this weekend, Odor will become a star for a team that had lost its identity. Odor is the future of the Texas Rangers and the future is now.

Next: Frisco RoughRiders Inteview: Alex Burg

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