2016 Position Preview – Second Base

Continuing on with the Position Preview countdown to Spring Training, we’ll make our way around the diamond to Second Base. The “4” spot on the field was and is one of the brightest spots with the brightest futures in the Rangers organization…just remember that that was in some real danger at the beginning of the year.

  • Week 1: The Rotation; Catcher
  • Week 2: First Base; Second Base
  • Week 3: Third Base, Shortstop
  • Week 4: Left Field, Center Field
  • Week 5: Right Field, The Bench
  • Week 6: The Bullpen, The Coaching Staff

In 2015: After bursting onto the scene in 2014, Rougned Odor seemed poised to be a mainstay at second base, rendering Jurickson Profar, the former number one prospect in all of baseball, to a mere afterthought. Not that Profar didn’t need to be out of the spotlight for a bit – shoulder injuries and setbacks have delayed his emergence onto the Major League scene considerably – but Odor has made a lasting impression, not just as a baseball player, but as a fan favorite in Texas. With his scrappy demeanor, constant hustle and infectious enthusiasm, fans wanted Rougie to succeed because, like the Rangers themselves, he wasn’t ever supposed to make it.

As the season started, Odor somewhat went the way of the Rangers. Things were disjointed, not in sync, perhaps he was trying too hard to live up to the expectations of being “the guy that replaced Jurickson Profar,” and as a result, Odor struggled. He struggled so bad, garnering only 12 hits in the first 29 games of the season with an ugly slash line of .144/.252/.233, that he was optioned down to Triple-A Round Rock to, as manager Jeff Banister put it, “get re-connected to the player he was.” Towards the end of his time with the club in May, Adam Rosales was getting playing time at second. Rosales was serviceable, but the Rangers wanted to see what a farmhand had to offer. The team called up Thomas Field, a guy who had played in just 33 games in the Majors across three seasons. Field did just fine for his time. Meanwhile, Odor, who had been sad but understanding about the demotion, had been making the most of his opportunity to rediscover his swing and swagger.

Odor ended up forcing the issue after going .352/.426/.639 with 5 homers, 19 RBI and 14 multi-hit games. The Rangers brought him back up and everything that endeared him to the team and the fans came back with him. Odor raked to the tune of a .292/.334/.527 line upon his return, including 15 of his 16 homers. He became a household name in the ALDS, playing like a man possessed, displaying stellar defense, a keen bat, and calculated aggression on the base paths, including the controversially spectacular go-ahead run in Game 5, when an errant throw from Toronto catcher Russell Martin clinked off of the bat of Shin-Soo Choo and Odor scampered home.

Your browser does not support iframes.

In 2016: The big thing that people will watch for this year is whether Rougie can replicate what he did after being called up. With second base all but assured to Odor, maintaining that swagger at the plate and in the field is what’s going to earn him his keep. In the wings waiting, should Odor struggle again or need rest, is “El Potro” Hanser Alberto. Alberto filled in admirably for injured third baseman Adrian Beltre during the ALDS, even driving in the eventual winning run in the Game 2 marathon.

Odor looks to be the future of this franchise at second base, and Jurickson Profar will continue to rehab his shoulder in the minor leagues to start the year. Profar made an impressive showing during the Arizona Fall League, hitting .267 with 20 RBI, but he was solely utilized as the Designated Hitter. Although trade talks brought up Profar’s name, there’s no chance a good deal gets made until the 22-year old shows he can play the field.

From the Hot Stove: Odor’s play after he got called up again and during the Division Series merited some early talks about an extension for Rougie. While we haven’t heard much more about that since the preliminary mention, the seed has been planted. Odor will be making the league minimum for the next two years, so an extension would be a reward for his work thus far, as opposed to a preemptive motion to save on his arbitration years.

As far as Free Agency goes, there’s not a sensible acquisition out there for Texas. All needs for a utility infielder are addressed by Alberto, and Jon Daniels could easily explore depth moves, but big ticket names are out of the question, unless JD believes that any of them are significant upgrades over Alberto.

The “Richard Durrett” Three Questions at this position:

  1. Is it too early to consider a contract extension/buy-out for Rougned Odor?
  2. Are there trades or signings that you would make to replace Hanser Alberto as the utility infielder?
  3. What hardware and acclamations can Odor rack up this year? Gold Glove? Silver Slugger? All-Star?
Matt Fisher on EmailMatt Fisher on FacebookMatt Fisher on Twitter
Matt Fisher
Matt Fisher is an Editor/Staff Writer for ShutdownInning. He is a baseball lifer, preferring to use the eye test and rely on the knowledge and analysis of baseball minds greater than his, while using relevant stats to encourage situational discussions. He is also co-host of The Most Valuable Podcast on the NextWave Radio Network, talking sports, entertainment, and sports entertainment.

While Matt's favorite team will always be his hometown Texas Rangers, he knows the ongoing story lines of every team in Major League Baseball. If you sit next to him at a game, be prepared to hear him try and do play-by-play. If you're famous and reading this, just know that he's not afraid to drop names.

Matt Fisher. ShutdownInning Editor/Staff Writer

Leave a Reply