Ever since getting called up from the minor leagues in May 2014, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor has developed into one of the team’s trademark players. While a tad on the short end of the stick at just 5’11”, the 24-year-old is a power hitter and hit a combined 63 total home runs in the last two seasons.
Unfortunately, 2017 was a season for Odor to forget about, as he saw his offensive production decline on many cylinders and looks to improve in 2018. Specifically, Odor’s batting numbers dropped significantly as his batting average fell from .271 in 2016 down to .204 in 2017 while his total number of hits dropped from 164 to only 124. Equally woeful, Odor struck out 162 times last season in 607 plate appearances, or 26.7 percent of the time in the batter’s box and Odor saw his OPS fall to a career-low .649. Consequently, Odor’s RBI total plummeted down to 75, a (-)13 differential from the previous season.
Even though all of these miscues were disappointing to many Rangers fans who expected a lot more from a player who before 2017 signed a hefty six-year $49.5 million contract extension, each season presents a new opportunity for players to showcase their worth, and 2018 might just be that type of season for Odor.
What will be his role?
Odor is looking to redeem himself in 2018 and is also looking to potentially assert himself as the next face of the franchise with Adrián Beltré soon on the way out and Elvis Andrus turning 30 come late August.
If Spring Training is indicative of player positions on the field, then it’s looking like Odor will be staying put as the starting second baseman. This is a fielding position that Odor is relatively comfortable being placed at and is also a fielding position where Odor has played solid defense over the years despite having committed 67 errors since 2014. In fact, Odor’s fielding percentage has consistently never dipped below .970 in his career and his number of putouts along with assists has increased every season.
Odor’s defensive awareness will be integral component of his overall success in 2018, especially for a Rangers team that ranked No. 25 in the MLB last season in total errors committed with 108 of them. Part of Odor’s defensive success will also depend on how effectively he’s able to communicate with other infielders in the diamond regarding defensive switches based on opposing team scouting reports so that the Rangers can remain a top 3 team in double plays.
On the offensive end, Odor will most likely be placed toward the bottom of the batting lineup after being shuffled around in Spring Training by manager Jeff Banister. According to Rotoworld, Odor is projected to be hitting in the No. 7 slot after DH Shin-Soo Choo and ahead of catcher Robinson Chirinos.
As previously mentioned, Odor was in a hitting slump in 2017, but that could get resolved if he cuts back on initially coming into the batter’s box swinging for the fences and falling behind early in the count. If that gets resolved, then Odor’s offensive numbers could increase in 2018.
In brief, it’s tough to draw up superb expectations for Odor coming into the 2018 season, but don’t be surprised if Odor returns to his 2016 stature as the season progresses.
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