Rougned Odor has finally adjusted at the plate. His new style of play is keeping him around and helping the Texas Rangers win games.
An angry mob has awaited Rougned Odor all season long. His 2017 season was bad enough, but his continued poor play into 2018 immediately had fans calling for his job. It didn’t help that he had signed a generous contract extension in the 2017 offseason. The Texas Rangers appeared to have wasted long-term money on a guy who could not hold his own at the major league level.
Though, perhaps the most frustrating part of Odor’s game was his inability to adjust. At-bat after at-bat, the Rangers second baseman flailed at fastballs up in the strike zone or curveballs in the dirt. He struck out almost as many times as he didn’t and his OBP didn’t even reach .300. Furthermore, there was a point in time when Odor was the least productive player in all of Major League Baseball.
Notice I’m writing in past tense. Rougned Odor is no longer the player described above. Well, he’s not currently playing like the player described above. Only time will tell if recent improvements are permanent. It’s spanned for only a month; however, the adjustments he has made are extremely encouraging.
Odor has stayed within himself at the plate. His well-known monster hacks have been cut down, as has his chase percentage. He is seeing more pitches and hitting HIS pitch when he sees it cross over the plate.
In June alone, Odor drew nine walks. That marks the most walks he has drawn in a month in his entire career. He also had a .354 OBP in June and has a .400 OBP thus far in July. To put the matter into perspective, Odor’s highest month OBP in 2017 was a .310 last July.
Also, Rougned Odor is finally taking advantage of the over-the-top shift that opposing teams are placing on him. He has bunted against the shift multiple times this season, including one yesterday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers. It is obvious he is making a strategic effort to reach base in the best available way. The strategy seems like common sense, but it hasn’t been that simple for Odor in the past.
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The transition from a hard-swinging, anxious, dead-pull hitter to a disciplined, versatile, under control hitter has been a long process. Throughout the process, Odor has sacrificed his most notable weapon–power. But the power will come. Actually, it speaks volumes that Odor can be this good even without his greatest weapon. Imagine his productivity once he is able to incorporate power into the hitting equation.
The Texas Rangers have shown extreme patience with their struggling second baseman. They had intentions to turn things around for him this spring, but as the saying goes…better late than never.
The Rangers and Rougned Odor being able to succeed in such a strong turnaround in the middle of the season is truly incredible. Typically, an organization would send a player to the minor leagues to work out crippling hitting flaws. Texas could have easily done so with Odor, especially given the depth of their infield.
Whether it was the right decision or not to let him work it out with the big league club, the end result is all that matters. Without a doubt, Rougned Odor is a changed player. Hopefully, these changes will stay with him for the rest of his career. His new brand of play will keep him around for much longer than his old brand.