2016 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Candidate — Rougned Odor
2015 was an exciting year for the Texas Rangers and their fans. They began the season the same way they ended 2014: in last place. But they went on a summer surge and ended up winning the AL West crown. A large part of the resurgence could be explained by a number of veterans finally playing up to their capabilities. Some could be explained by the absence of Ron Washington. Losing the longtime manager probably gained them several games in the standings by itself. The last portion could be attributed to the development of young players like Rougned Odor and Delino Deshields.
The aforementioned Odor might have the most unfortunate name in baseball, but he has had a very fortunate opportunity the last two years. His spot in the lineup had been earmarked for Jurickson Profar, but Profar missed most of the last two seasons with injuries. Last season, Odor earned his spot full-time, and now he is expected to be one of the top ten second basemen in baseball.
Sometimes people make it because they are so talented that no one can deny them. Sometimes people make it because there is simply no one else to do it. When talent meets opportunity it can be something beautiful to behold. Odor is probably in the latter category. Most experts expect him to hit 20 or more home runs this season.
Where he has been
A quick look at these numbers doesn’t reveal the progress that Odor made in one season. These numbers came in a similar number of plate appearances (417 and 470). He simply was far more productive in the second season and one of the many reasons why batting average can be a very misleading statistic. Simply put, he packed a lot more punch in that batting average the second time around.
Even going into last season, the plan wasn’t for Odor to hold the position down long term. They always thought it would go to Profar and Profar might still find playing time this season, but it won’t come at the expense of playing time for Odor. Whether Odor takes the next step or not, he will play every day and that every day playing might help his numbers take the next step by itself.
Where he could go
Hopefully, it is painfully obvious that Odor likely won’t hit .273 this season even though every expert seems to think he will do so. The truth is that they all have very similar ways of calculating their projections. They look at what a player has done, and then factor in likely playing time projections, batted ball norms, and plate discipline data. They obviously don’t factor for real improvement even though he has shown obvious improvement between year one and year two.
This is where the fantasy fan has to do a little of their own guesswork. We can take this a little too far sometimes. It is possible that he could hit .280 and 25 home runs, but that probably isn’t very likely. The discerning fan will probably do better to hang with the actual projections and then simply bank on some improvement somewhere to help them out. In this case, the projections won’t be much different than the rosy picture.
The Rosy Picture
The obvious point here is that this is exactly what he has done projected out over 600 plate appearances. I think everyone think the first season is more or less irrelevant in determining what he will do next season. The question is whether he will be better than he was in 2015 or more or less similar. Even if he is similar he is still a valuable player. If he’s better, then he could vault into the top five at second base.