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Flash Forward: Rougned Odor

This week’s Flash Forward focuses on the Texas Rangers’ young second baseman, Rougned Odor. After playing sporadically in 2014 and 2015, Odor enjoyed a breakout season in 2016. He slashed .271/.296/.502 with 33 homers, 88 RBI and even mixed in 14 stolen bases. The 23-year-old entered the 2017 season with high expectations but didn’t quite live up to them. Odor’s 2017 campaign has raised some questions about the Venezuelan’s future.

Odor batted an unsightly .204 with 162 strikeouts last season. When taking a closer look, it’s apparent that Odor was incredibly unlucky in 2017. In fact, judging by his .224 BABIP, the worst mark in baseball, he was baseball’s unluckiest player last season. Odor’s strikeout and walk rates both increased from 2016, but he was still putting the ball in the air at a 42.2 percent clip.

That 42.2 percent FB rate reflected on his home run totals, as well, as he reached the 30-homer mark for the second straight season. It’s the homers and improved BB:K rate that lets us look past Odor’s .204 batting average. His walk rate jumped from 3.0 percent to 4.9 percent. While his strikeout rate increased, as well, jumping from 21.4 percent to 24.9 percent, he also had a career-best 36.7 percent hard-hit rate. Had Odor not been faced with terrible luck, he would have been right on par with his impressive 2016 campaign.

It’s easy to forget that the powerful second baseman just turned 24 years old. He still has much to learn, though he already has had a huge head start. Thirty home runs in a season is no easy feat, and Odor has already done it twice before the age of 25. As evidenced by his fly ball rate, that power isn’t going anywhere.

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Unlike most players with 30 plus homer seasons, Odor adds a little extra value with his ability to steal bases. He stole 14 in 2016 and followed it up with 15 last season. However, he’s still getting caught almost half of the time, which may limit his opportunities in the future. Still, while Odor may never put up 20 plus stolen base seasons, you can expect him to hit double-digit steals on a year-to-year basis.

Odor’s 2018 season will go a long way in determining which player he will develop in to. He’s more than just the 30-homer, .200-average guy we saw last year. He’s already showed he’s capable of batting .260 or better, and I expect him to sport a batting average in the .250-.260 range more often than not. The strikeouts aren’t going anywhere, either, but that’s not out of the norm for someone hitting 30 homers in a season.

Over the next few seasons and as Odor enters his prime, I think we’ll see a mix of what he’s done that last couple of seasons. Odor has a skillset similar to that of the Twins’ Brian Dozier. What’s impressive, though, is that Odor has already reached that comp at a much younger age than Dozier. With that in mind, it’s easy to be excited about Odor’s future, despite what we saw from him in 2017.

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