Over the years, Rougned Odor has had the same iconic swing. During Wednesday’s game against the Angels, he made noticeable adjustments to it.
We can put whatever name on his struggles that we want, but I believe that his struggles have stemmed from poor swing mechanics.
I’m here to break down some of his mechanical changes over the years, but specifically this spring.
We’ll start with this video of Rougie going yard against Oakland in 2017.
Rougned Odor has made adjustments to his swing. Time will tell if it pays off for the Texas Rangers.
The first thing that caught my eye was how quickly he got his leg kick down and how quiet his hands were In this video.
One reason for that, he was down 1-2 in the count and had to use a more defensive swing.
I can almost guarantee you that Odor getting his foot down early is an attempt to be able to adjust to an off-speed pitch.
By getting his right leg down early, it allows Odor to use the full force of his core and hips to drive through the ball and pull it down the line, or adjust to a breaking ball, and be able to use your hands to take it to left field.
By comparison, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young were two of the best in franchise history at getting their front legs down early and using the whole field to their advantage.
When Rougie is able to do so, he can do a lot of damage. When he has been caught in the middle of his leg kick timing, he tends to strike out at a high clip and miss pitches he should normally crush.
Secondly, look at how little movement his head and hands have.
As of late, Rougie has been very fidgety when it comes to the “bat waggle” and how he tries to load his swing.
A baseball player’s swing is much like a twisted up rubber band.
When you twist it and let it go, it releases a lot of force for a small item, a ballplayer’s swing is the same.
When you are able to get your hands back and load your swing, you create a “spring action” when you take a cut at the ball. All of that pulled back force is unleashed when you let your hips drive through and finish with your follow through.
Odor does a great job of limiting his movement here, which allows him to get a better look at the ball for considerably longer.
By staying quiet with his hands, he takes out any unneeded movement toward the ball that would waste more of his swing time.
One more thing about 2017 Odor is how tall he stands in the box. He is very upright, whereas in recent years he has been bent or hunched over in the box.
We’ll touch more on that in a little bit.
But, because he struggled, he made more adjustments to his leg kick, stance and bat waggle that greatly affected his production.
So, Odor began to experiment with his leg kick and his timing of big league pitches went haywire.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are two or three milliseconds late on a 99 mph fastball, you won’t hit it, and that is where Rougie has been over the past few years.
His leg kick has gotten more extreme and he has begun to move his hands around, much like Brandon Phillips’ iconic swing.
Let’s take a look at Odor’s swing from this past season in Colorado. Notice how bent over he is in the box, how much he moves his hands and how high his leg kick has gotten.
The first thing you should notice is how crouched he looks in the box, and how he has closed his stance.
A player’s stance is all about comfort and can be adjusted to work on different aspects of your game, i.e. Cal Ripken Jr..
For Odor, closing his stance off, even a little bit, forces him to go more forward than up with his leg kick. By doing so, he can still use a high leg lift, but it will cut down the time for him to come into a balanced hitting position when he plants his front leg.
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Aside from a more closed-off stance, watch how much he moves his hands compared to the first video. He also dropped his hands slightly, making the bat more perpendicular to the catcher.
Hall of Famer Jim Thome speaks highly about getting the knob of the bat down toward the catcher when loading your swing. It allows the hitter to find the slot that will lead to the quickest bat path through the zone.
The reason I bring up the movement in Odor’s hands is because he doesn’t load his hands very much at all in this video.
His hands move, but when he goes to load his swing, the back half of that swing is losing power because he doesn’t full “coil” by loading his hands back.
I firmly believe that Odor’s struggles have been in large part due to a off-timed exaggerated leg kick and an inconsistent load when before he swings.
Now, by no means am I a major league hitter, but as someone who loves to study the game and the mechanics of it, there are flaws in Odor’s swing that have caused him to struggle drastically.
With all of this background knowledge, let’s take a look at his adjustments during the Texas Rangers’ spring game against the Angels on Wednesday.
Here’s what his stance looked like yesterday versus last season.
Odor’s new swing could earn him a Texas Rangers’ roster spot.
Notice how in the bottom picture how closed off Odor is, how bent over he is and how high his hands are.
Then, look at the top picture and look at how he has straightened up in the box, lowered his hands and opened his stance back up.
Look at his elbow positioning, as well.
Odor struggled mightily in 2020, we know that, but it also has to do with an ever-changing stance and fidgeting with his mechanics.
This offseason, Rougie targeted his hands and his posture in the box.
Odor lowered his hands in an effort to force a load when he swings the bat, and kept his elbow down to pre-set his arms into a good slot for his bat to come through the zone.
Beginning with his elbow, by keeping it tucked in like that, he allows himself less movement when he loads and swings.
His elbow is already in an attack position and can easily bring itself in towards his body when he swings, creating more of an inside-out swing that we’ve seen from other Texas Rangers greats such as Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.
Dropping his hands also forces Odor to load his hands and create a good torque before he swings that creates more force and more power than keeping his hands stagnant, as he did in the Colorado video.
He also has the knob of the bat preset pointed at the catcher, which allows him to keep the bat In the zone for longer, giving him a better chance to make contact if he’s slightly late.
Rougie also went back to a more upright position in the box, which we’ve seen him have great success with in the past.
Being upright, from my observations of Odor, helps him stay balanced in the box.
Rougie is a such a violent swinger that anytime he’s swung a bat in the last few years, he’s fallen off balance and has forced himself to end in a bad position when he swings.
By staying more upright, he can allow himself to adjust mid-swing, but still remain in a balanced position. That will only help him get a better view of the baseball as it’s coming in.
Lastly, and it’s not shown above, he’s loading up with a less severe leg kick.
There is plenty of power in his bat, and he’s plenty strong enough, so having that exaggerated leg kick hurt him as he tried to hit for more power when he struggled.
With his new, less exaggerated leg kick, he should be able to generate close to the same amount of power, but remain in a good, balanced hitting position and be more able to adjust to changeups and other breaking balls.
In conclusion, Rougned Odor has managed to over-complicate his swing mechanics over the years that he has begun to look lost at the plate.
Now, after spending an off-season working diligently on the mental aspect of the game and mechanics, he looks like a more polished hitter mechanically.
Only time and plate appearances will tell if Odor really has made the adjustments needed to be an above-average big leaguer like we saw in 2016, but there will be plenty of speculation.
With Nick Solak more than likely taking the second base job, Odor will have an uphill battle ahead of him, but could find himself in a much better spot if he has a good spring.