Ponder this: the first pro baseball game was played on May 4, 1871, and Rougned Odor had one of the worst seasons ever since then at second base. Thousands of men have played that position, and Odor “topped ‘em all.”
That has to be worth something ... maybe a few horses.
Odor offers no excuses for any of it, nor should he. He tried every day.
Incredibly, Rangers manager Jeff Banister never gave Odor a single game off to get his mind right with ball. And Odor, impressively, never asked to take a day off to get his mind right with ball.
Shortly after agreeing to a six-year contract last spring, Odor's play was an odor. He couldn't even punch a Blue Jay.
Nearly every young player who signs a monster contract crashes, and as such Odor merits a mulligan of sorts.
Odor is still a kid, and he could pull an Elvis Andrus and turn this thing around. But there are some scary signs that this is a contract the GM/President may painfully regret.
Odor’s card is that he’s aggressive, which is great, right up until the time it’s dumb.
He has played in 546 career big league games, he’s 24, and approaching the time when he needs to slow down and have learned from his mistakes.
If not, he will be the dumb, talented kid who never learned. But, and good for him, he will have secured the contract that all players covet.
"I don't want to change. That's my game. I am going to be there and play hard all the time," Odor said. "T'hat’s how I learned to play. My family teach me to play that way and it’s something that I can't change."
The Rangers don't necessarily want Odor to change. They do want him to slow down. To be smarter.
They knew that when they gave him a six-year, $49.5 million deal. He didn’t even need agent Scott Boras to pull this over on the Rangers.
The team has an option for a seventh year on a contract that would take Odor to 2023, around the same time the city of Arlington will approve a bond package to move into another new stadium in 2026.
Rangers president Jon Daniels comes from the former team GM John Hart school of avoiding arbitration at all costs, which this deal did, at a high cost; JD avoided three years of potential arbitration with his second baseman.
Nonetheless, of the many deals constructed and approved by Daniels, Odor’s should scare everybody.
His batting average was in .204 a season ago. His on-base percentage was .252. He committed 19 errors. He struck out 162 times, and drew 32 walks.
Both Banister and Odor fell for the old baseball truism that tomorrow is the game when it’s going to turn it around. Only it never did.
Odor appeared in all 162 games, and went to the plate a suffocating 651 times.
Watching him trot out every single day and do the same thing was both impressive, and sad. He never quit. He never changed.
He did hit a lot of home runs (30) to follow up a career-best 33 from 2016.
Banister should have forced Odor to sit down. To do something other than go back out there and watch his second baseman swing his way further down a hole.
“I learned a lot about him,” Banister said. “He’s tougher on the interior than the exterior.”
Odor’s mind would have to be made of steel not to be affected by his numbers last season.
Was it the money?
Don’t rule that out. A lot of great players lose their minds when they get rich.
“You would,” Banister said.
I eagerly look forward to that day, too.
When the Rangers handed Andrus his eight-year, $120 million extension in the spring of ’13, his numbers dipped. And they dipped again.
Like Odor, Andrus took virtually no days off, fought his way through his slump, and progressed to the point where each of the last two years he’s been one of the best hitters on his team.
"We talk all the time and we are different," Odor said. "For me, I signed a contract and I played the game the same way since I was a little kid to right now. I don't worry about the contract. I just like to play baseball. Obviously, the contract is really good for me and my family. I can take care of my family. I just play the game because I love it."
No one can challenge Odor's passion or sincerity towards the game. Respect that. He's not mailing it in, and he's not some punk with attitude.
But he is young, and still wildly aggressive. Opposing pitchers have figured him out, and exploit his youth too often.
You can only be young so long before you will be labeled as dumb.
He's got his money.
Now he's got to learn.
The Rangers don't need another contract they will regret.