Rougned Odor and the Shift

I recently wrote about Rougned Odor and why he’s been riding such a low batting average this year.  I came away with the opinion that since nothing apparently has changed in his game that he’s going to come around soon enough.  I dug into his batted ball profile, his plate discipline, and hit Statcast data looking for answers and came away with nothing significantly different than last year.

One thing we do know about Odor is he is a lefty and he likes to pull the ball.  For the last three years he’s had a pull percentage in the high 40’s.  I took a quick look at Odor’s data against the shift on FanGraphs.  One weird thing is that Odor is batting .250 against the shift, meaning he’s been much better against the shift than not this year.  That’s not normal.  However his sample size for a “no shift” scenario is only 29 plate appearances.  So he’s hardly hit against a normal defensive positioning this year.  I went through the last 3 years and Odor’s percentage of plate appearances against the shift has gone from 20% in 2015, 58% in 2016, and now 79% in 2017.  That’s a significant change if you ask me.

What does this mean?  I’m not sure other than is should lead to lower BABIPs and lower batting averages over time.  Odor is a young and talented hitter so I’m sure he can adjust his game around this but at least for the time being this could be why his batting average is so low.

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