Texas Rangers

Power puts Rangers’ Odor in elite company

Rougned Odor "a star in the making" for Rangers

Rangers manager Jeff Banister praises Rougned Odor, who hit his 30th homer of the season (video by Jeff Wilson).
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Rangers manager Jeff Banister praises Rougned Odor, who hit his 30th homer of the season (video by Jeff Wilson).

In a stretch of big offensive performances across the league last week, none was bigger than what Rougned Odor did.

The second baseman batted .444 with five home runs and 15 RBIs, posted an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.532, and actually drew a walk.

His team, the Texas Rangers, went 5-1 in the six games he played, including a walk-off win over the Seattle Mariners courtesy of his two-run homer in the ninth inning.

Odor’s reward for his week’s work was revealed Tuesday when he was named the American League Player of the Week before the Rangers and the Mariners faced off in a late game at Safeco Field.

Odor batted fifth for the 12th consecutive game a day after launching his 30th home run of the season to become the only second baseman in MLB history to hit 30 at age 22 or younger.

Not modern-day All-Stars Robinson Cano, Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler or Dustin Pedroia.

Not Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson, Joe Morgan or Ryne Sandberg.

Only Odor, who at 22 appears to be on the fast track toward a special career.

This is a guy that’s a star in the making.

Jeff Banister on Rougned Odor

“This young man can leave the ballpark in all directions,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We know how powerful he is. He’s got great launch angle on the ball when it leaves his bat. When he’s staying out of the chase zones and forces pitchers back into his zone, he’s extremely dangerous.

“This is a guy that’s a star in the making.”

In only his third season, Odor has a long way to go before he can take permanent residence among the game’s greats, and pitfalls to entrap him are along the way.

He struggles to resist low sliders and high fastballs. He has more homers and doubles (29) than he does walks (14), and a more patient hitter might be able to increase all three categories.

He’s also aggressive on the bases, which has bitten him and the Rangers. He entered Tuesday with 18 outs on the bases this season, six of which were while trying to steal a base.

Through all his apparent shortcomings, Odor has already established career-highs in every major offensive category except triples. And he swears he’s not a power hitter.

“I just try to play day to day,” Odor said. “I don’t think about the future. I just try to do my job and help my team.

“I think I’m a contact hitter, a gap-to-gap hitter. I just try to hit the ball hard all the time. If it’s a homer I like it. It’s good to hit homers, but I don’t try to go up there and hit homers.”

34 Minor-league home runs in parts of four seasons for Rougned Odor, who has 30 homers this season for the Rangers

The Rangers said that they were able to project 30-homer power for Odor, though he never hit more than 11 home runs in any minor league season. But he hit 21 last season between the Rangers and Triple A Round Rock, where he was dispatched after a miserable opening five weeks.

“Obviously, he’s hit 30,” Banister said. “Prior to we could envision him hitting 30 somewhere in his career. I think he’s just gotten to it a little quicker than we projected him to do it.”

Odor also drove in two runs Monday, giving him six straight games with multiple RBIs. No second baseman had accomplished that since RBIs became an official statistic ... in 1920. Among all players, only Walker Cooper in 1947 has done it in eight in a row. Hack Wilson had seven in a row in 1928, and so did outfielder Kevin Mench in 2006 to set the Rangers’ record.

Home run No. 30 put Odor in a group of elite players since 2000 who have hit 30 homers at age 22 or younger. The list includes Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Giancarlo Stanton.

That’s four MVPs, one Triple Crown winner, the three top young position players in baseball and the sluggers with the most prodigious power in the game.

Not bad company for Odor.

“It’s a huge plus for him,” Banister said. “Elite company.”

Odor appears to be on the fast track toward a special career.

Rangers infielders Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor say the club took care of business during 8-2 home stand against Indians, Mariners and Astros (Video by Stefan Stevenson/Star-Telegram).

Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor hit two more homers Wednesday to extend a hot stretch at the plate (video by Jeff Wilson).

Rangers at Mariners

9:10 p.m. Wednesday, FSSW, ESPN

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