In many ways 2017 was a step back for Rougned Odor. On paper, if we just looked at has counting stats they would show a similar line to 2016, but as we look to the average and on-base percentage, it tells a different story. Odor, known as a free swinger, batted .271 in 2016, but struggled in 2017 and finished just above the Mendoza Line with .204. This was a case of a young player getting exposed due to his high swinging tendency. This season the approach at the plate has changed, with the biggest difference being he’s starting to take walks.
His 8.6% walk rate is the highest it’s ever been and almost double last season. The strikeout rate is around the same at 24.3% while the average is back up at .269. If we look at his monthly splits he started to get hot in June, and the production hasn’t stopped. The most encouraging sign is that the home runs are starting to come. He also has a chance to set a new career-high in stolen bases as he stole six in all of July. We now see why his overall strikeout percentage was high, and that’s due to the 33.3% in May. I’m very intrigued by his walk rate so let’s check out the plate discipline numbers.
Odor is swinging less. He’s chasing balls on the outside part of the plate less this season as his number has decreased to 35.6%. Swing percentage has decreased to an all-time low of 46.7% while his swinging strike percentage is at 10.5%. These decreases are very noticeable in the monthly splits where his o-swing, swing percentage, and swinging strike have steadily decreased each month. He definitely seems like he’s making a conscious effort to being selective on the balls that he wants to hit. Now let’s see what results he’s getting.
There’s not much that has changed in the past two seasons, ground balls and fly balls remain relatively the same. This season he’s hitting more line drives which is very encouraging, and if we look at June and July, he actually had a very good percentage compared to the rest of the months. In August, his fly ball rate has jumped to 53.8% with ground balls lowering to 38.5%, and that’s significant because he’s also hitting the ball very hard which could lead to more home runs.
Statcast doesn’t believe what Odor is doing is that legit. What stands out is his poor exit velocity, but at least it’s trending in the right direction. The velocity might also be a cause for his lower expected average and slugging percentage. July and August have been the best months for him, though there are some concerns this month. It seems like he’s got in a little bit lucky as his expected average is at .258. Due to his high fly ball tendency, not all balls will go over the fence so he has to be careful he doesn’t sacrifice too much batting average in the process. Even though Statcast is not a big fan of him, it’s hard to argue the results.
Coming into the season a lot of people thought he’d be a nice rebound candidate. Unfortunately for some, things didn’t start to click until June, and by that point he was most likely dropped in many leagues. He’s walking more and seems to be developing a good eye for the strike zone. He’s being selective and the exit velocity is starting to come around as are the home runs. Odor is looking like a good bet to finish the year on a high note and letting last season be a thing of the past.