Texas Rangers Position Preview: No drama at second base
By Ben Zajdel
Rougned Odor is firmly entrenched at second base for the Texas Rangers, and 2019 is primed to be a breakout year for the sixth year pro.
When you’re considering all the young players on the Texas Rangers, and the year of development ahead, you probably don’t think about Rougned Odor. He’s been on the roster for five years now, including the 2015 and 2016 AL West winning squads. There was the famed scuffle with Jose Bautista, and the back-to-back 30 home run seasons. He’s been an essential part of the team for half a decade now.
But here’s the thing: he’s only 25 years old. He’s the same age as Joey Gallo and Jose LeClerc, only one year older than Willie Calhoun and Ronald Guzman, and a year younger than Delino DeShields and prospects Jose Trevino and Scott Heineman. Odor isn’t even in his prime yet.
And guess what? He’s starting to figure it out. I could tell you the difference in his first and second half stats from 2018. That helps paint part of the picture. Odor started the season badly. Really badly. He hit .204 in April and May, and put up a .239/.319/.378 slash for the first half.
Even Odor’s biggest supporters were beginning to think he should be replaced with Profar. But he turned it around starting in June, and ended up hitting a scorching .341 with six home runs in July. His second half slash was much better: .266/.333./.467 with twelve home runs.
The stats alone tell you that Odor figured things out at the plate. If you watched the games, you could tell right away what changed. The high fastballs and curveballs in the dirt that Odor used to chase became balls instead of strikes. Odor showed a patience he’d never displayed before, and it translated into some of the best production of his career.
Now Odor goes into 2019 with the same physical skills, the same attitude, but with the maturity of a veteran. He knows how to succeed at the plate, how to make adjustments, and he’s made huge strides with his defense. I’m willing to say this is the year he makes his first All-Star appearance.
When Odor needs a day off, Asdrubal Cabrera or Isiah Kiner-Falefa will fill in at second. But barring injury, Odor will man the right side of the infield for about 150 games this season. Hopefully it’ll be a season to remember.