Why Has Rougned Odor Been So Foul?

I own Rougned Odor in multiple leagues and so far I have been left with a fairly disappointing second basemen.  He hit two home runs in the first game of the season but since then has not been all that exciting.  As a guy who hit 33 home runs with a .271 batting average in 2016, I wouldn’t expect to be looking at a .200 batting average halfway through the month of May.  Let’s take a closer look and see if we can’t determine if something is actually wrong or if it is a normal slump.

First off let’s remember that Odor came up very young.  He only turned 23 years old back in February.  The Texas Rangers as a whole seem to be in a giant funk.  They are sitting right about .500 but with Adrian Beltre, Carlos Gomez, and Cole Hamels hurt, Jonathan Lucroy sitting at 7 RBI on the year, and Mike Napoli batting .183 I’d say they could be doing better.  Rougned Odor has always had the all-or-nothing swing and last year that worked out very well for him.  Here’s where his current line is on the year:

Standard Batting
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
40 167 155 19 31 6 1 6 17 4 4 10 34 .200 .257 .368 .625
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/17/2017.

Now Odor’s slump isn’t that bad.  He’s on pace for 24 home runs and at least 70 runs and RBI, but we were hoping for a little more than that.  The batting average department is where the real ding to his fantasy value has been.  Throughout the minors he was always know for having an average or plus bat and his first few years in the majors have each come with improvement in this category, getting up to .271 last year.  So why the huge drop off?  Well glancing at his FanGraphs page we see first that he’s riding a .217 BABIP.  Now that’s obviously a sign of being unlucky but something tells me that he might be at least partially responsible for the bum luck.  Even last year we saw he was developing into an extreme fly ball hitter, which typically leads to having a lower than normal BABIP.  He’s also an extreme pull hitter, and as a lefty that makes it pretty easy for a team to decide to play a defensive shift against him.

Well sure enough Rougned Odor is sitting at a 47% pull rate, same as 2016, and a 47.5% fly ball rate, up from 42.2% in 2016.  So sure, he’s contributing to the low BABIP somewhat like we thought, but that usually means down in the .270 range, not around .200.  Other factors?  Well soft contact percentage is up but nothing alarming there.  Home run per fly ball percentage is down a good margin but his average exit velocity is actually up from 2016 (according to Baseball Savant).  Also his average launch angle is currently right at 19%, which according to an excellent recent article by Andrew Perpetua on launch angles is right in the sweet zone for doing the most damage.  Leading me to dismiss another potentially troubling number, Odor’s infield fly ball rate is sky high at 22.8%, a large bump up from his 8.2% in 2016.

Rougned Odor’s plate discipline also checks out clean.  His outside swing rate, swinging strike rate, and contact rates all are very close to his 2016 numbers.  He’s swinging just as often as well.  Taking a quick peak at his zone charts (on Baseball Savant) there doesn’t seem to be much of a change from 2016.  He kills the ball up and away and is weak low and in, but pitchers have through him a similar spread this year as they did last year; so I’m not sure that all of a sudden the book is out on him and pitchers have found a way to neutralize him.

So what does that leave us with?  I don’t know let’s look at his spray chart.

From Baseball Savant

Does it sort of look to you like he has hit an abnormal amount of balls right at where you’d expect the outfielders to be playing?  It does to me.  Which leaves me with my only real conclusion, that Odor has just gotten unlucky so far.  Funny the conclusion I draw after all that is the same conclusion I could’ve come to after looking at one of the first numbers I mentioned, BABIP.  Nonetheless I think what we see here is the same Rougned Odor we saw in 2016.  I see no reason to believe he is any worse this year.  Lots of power is on the way and he should hit for a batting average in the same .265-.275 range rest of the way.  The end of season average might end up lower, in the .250 range, but all we are really worried about is rest of season numbers.  Eventually Adrian Beltre will be back and hopefully ignite the Texas lineup.  I think finding no underlying problem is better than finding one.  For all you owners out there rocking Odor in the 2B slot, I’d recommend being patient with the young buck, better fortune is ahead.

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