Anyone who predicted that Rougned Odor, who many were calling to be demoted or released outright in the first half, could have ascended the way he did in the second half, should have been playing the lottery for a billion dollars.
After around 100 at-bats at the start of the season, Odor was hovering around the Mendoza line. That .204 batting average was the lowest of the season. During those first two months, Odor suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of April. It didn’t look like he was going to get back on track after coming back, actually spending most of May below .200.
June hit and, while it never felt like Rougie’s average rose by 40 points, Odor was finding other ways to get on base. He was able to get his on-base percentage up to the .300 mark, and once it hit there at the end of June, it never dipped below that point. After the All-Star Break, the Rangers’ second baseman turned Major League Baseball into his own playground. For a little over a month, Odor slashed a purely nutty .318/.389/.624 over 39 games.
Highlights from the second half included a 5-for-5, two homer performance against Houston, a series against Baltimore, in which he hit three homers and drove in eight runs while drawing five walks in one game and a couple of 4-RBI performances against the Mariners and the Angels.
Odor cooled down as the season wound down in September, but by that point, a lot of the fight had gone out of a lot of the Rangers. Changes were happening all over. Texas had jettisoned much of its veteran talent, and in the last two weeks, dropped its manager. So while Odor got hit with a cold blast in September and hit below .200, the fact that he ended the season at .253/.326/.424 after being brought up as a DFA candidate should remain impressive.
We would also be remiss if we didn't bring up Odor’s improved defense. Defensive metrics aren't always the most reliable or most indicative of defensive acumen. However, a simple eye test in the second half will show that Odor was able to put together a highlight reel of plays at second base.
Considering that, in the past, Odor has been regarded as a below average defensive second baseman, the 2018 season with the glove was a special one for the Venezuelan.
It was announced on Sunday evening that Odor was a runner-up for the Rawlings Gold Glove award at second base. He came in second place to former Ranger (and Tiger and Angel and Red Sox) Ian Kinsler. While both players sat at 10 Defensive Runs Saved, Kinsler had a greater Ultimate Zone Rating (which compares plays that the player made to similar chances league-wide) at 9.7 compared to Odor’s 6.9.
To some critics who might only remember some of the gaffes that Odor made in his first few seasons, the Gold Glove nomination and finalist finish is a huge surprise. Even to those that saw his glovework get better, for Odor to finish in second for a Gold Glove could be viewed as a definite shock. It probably wasn't a shock to Odor himself as he reportedly worked hard with third base and infield coach Tony Beasley on improving himself in the field.
The ability to make in-season adjustments, become a legitimate threat at the dish and put in the hard work to become a defensive name over the second half of 2018 made it an easy choice for me to give Rougned Odor the second-half MVP.
Odor still has much to work on, including proving that he can be consistent, but the Rangers have to be encouraged, going forward, with the potential of their second baseman. Rougie is locked up through his age-29 season, through 2023 and is perfectly poised to be one of the premier faces of Globe Life Field.
Do you feeling like the Rangers can finally count on Rougned Odor to be the key cog at the keystone or is he due to regress again after a hot second half? Share your thoughts with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.