The Worst of Rougned Odor Is Back

At the end of March, the Rangers and Rougned Odor agreed to a six-year commitment, worth just shy of $50 million. Since then, Odor has gone from being a guy coming off a .502 slugging percentage to being a guy actively slugging .359. When you look for reasons why the Rangers are standing a little bit under .500, you should give plenty of consideration to the fact that, for two and a half months or so, Odor has played around the replacement level. His wRC+ is quite literally just about half what it was a season ago.

So, what’s ailing Odor at the plate? Here is a decent and very simple clue:

As a rookie, Odor was good for 19 pop-ups and nine home runs. As a sophomore, he finished with 26 pop-ups and 16 home runs. In what left the impression of being a breakout junior season, Odor wound up with 16 pop-ups and 33 home runs. But now Odor’s a senior, I guess, and his current line includes 19 pop-ups and nine home runs. Fully a quarter of Odor’s fly balls have qualified as pop-ups. That rate is extreme — too extreme — and it’s evident right away that Odor is back to just not squaring up the ball often enough.

In the plot, you see Odor’s rates of infield flies per fly ball, and home runs per fly ball. Here are the former rates, subtracted from the latter rates:

  • 2014: -8.8%
  • 2015: -7.3%
  • 2016: +8.8%
  • 2017: -13.2%

That’s just HR/FB% – IFFB%. To further contextualize things, here are Odor’s year-to-year MLB percentile rankings in the same stat:

  • 2014: 8th percentile
  • 2015: 7th
  • 2016: 76th
  • 2017: 1st

Odor, by this measure, was very bad, then very bad, then pretty good!, and now very bad. It’s not that he isn’t a half-decent power hitter, but he pops up too often for someone who hits so many balls in the air. Last season made it seem as if Odor had managed to conquer one of his biggest drawbacks, but now it’s back with a vengeance, and Odor is having difficulty keeping his head above water.

This doesn’t actually explain whatever the problem might be. It’s just another indicator that a problem has existed. And it’s also important to point out that, when Odor popped up a bunch in 2015, he still managed to hit all right. But Odor changed his approach over time to become more fly-ball friendly, and the pop-up issue has been worse than ever. Odor is trying to get under the ball, but in a sense he’s been too successful. The mis-hits have dragged down his batting line, to a woeful depth.

Odor will adjust, and the stats will improve. I can’t see him finishing all that close to a wRC+ of 54. But, given how aggressively he swings, he’s given the impression of being awfully volatile. Volatile players go through some miserable slumps. Rangers fans have seen the worst of Rougned Odor again, and this needs to get turned around within a week or three if the team wants to mount a serious charge for the wild card.

We hoped you liked reading The Worst of Rougned Odor Is Back by Jeff Sullivan!

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Well you know what they say. If it looks like a dirty rat, acts like a dirty rat, sounds like a dirty rat, and pops up like a dirty rat, it probably isn’t a good baseball player.