Talk about a conundrum.
The Rangers had one of the worst second baseman in all of baseball in 2019. Yet, they were among the leaders in overall OPS out of that position in the A.L. West.
That’s because perhaps no single player benefited from the juiced baseball than Rougned Odor. In the baseball equivalent of the Most Interesting Man in the World commercials, Odor didn’t often hit the ball but when he did he hit a home run. He hit 30 of them. But so many home runs were hit, his 30 tied his for 56th most in baseball.
It’s also because, other than all-world Jose Altuve for Houston, the rest of the division is a black hole at second.
There are two new-age stats that the baseball industry swears by: WAR and OPS+. WAR is a confusing set of stats designed to codify each player into a number as a way to compare players. As silly and arbitrary as it is, it’s revered among front offices. Basically, it’s a measure of a player’s worth compared to an average player, how many wins that player can be counted on generating for his team as opposed to an everyday replacement player.
In 2019, Rougned Odor’s WAR was -0.3. That means he was actually worse than a replacement player. Or, you could have grabbed anyone off the scrap heap and sent him out to second and he would have been better than Odor. And that’s with his 30 home runs and 93 RBIs. Because, take away those thirty at-bats when he homered, and he was pretty much worthless. In fact, he was just as bad in 2017, and most of 2018.
The other telling stat is OPS+. That adjusts a player’s on-base-plus-slugging to the rest of the league. 100 is major league average. Odor’s 2019 OPS+ was 79. That means he was more than 20 percent worse than average overall production.
Odor led the American League in striking out and was second in the league in caught stealing. He was dead last in batting average of the 135 players who qualify, and 134 out of 135 in on-base-percentage. Still, he drove in 93 runs. Only thirty players drove in more.
But the lows and highs don’t matter. Odor was gifted a huge contract and he is not going anywhere. Rougned Odor will be the starting second baseman in Texas for years to come. Sl, all Rangers fans can do is hope he figures it out. He did at times in 2019. Now, it’s just a matter of all season rather than a few brief spurts.
Here is where Rangers second base production compared to other teams in their division, with Odor, Solak, and Santana getting the bulk of at-bats at second.
And here the top available free agent second baseman:
Tomorrow, third base.