The Punch Heard ‘Round the ‘Globe’ [and Beyond]
*updated Thursday, May 26 at 4:42 p.m.
To literally no surprise, Rougned Odor has been officially suspended – and resuspended – by Major League Baseball for his part in an eighth-inning brouhaha during the Rangers’ 7-5 win May 16 over the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Rougned Odor says he knows he will be suspended but doesn’t regret anything that happened Sunday. Said he was protecting himself. #Rangers
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) May 16, 2016
As it first sat with the eight-game suspension handed down to Odor by the league office Tuesday, May 17, the Ranger second baseman would have been eligible to return to the field, clubhouse, and dugout for the opener of the Friday, May 27 – Sunday, May 29, home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As expected, however, Cpt. Right Hook appealed the aforementioned suspension assigned after he served the left side of Jose “Prima Donna” Bautista’s face with a knuckle sandwich.
*note: After a Tuesday, May 24 hearing, multiple media outlets are confirming the suspension has been reduced by one game. Odor will now serve seven games for his role in knocking the daylights out of Bautista. Meaning he will be out of commission Friday, May 27 – Friday, June 3 – series against the Pirates, Indians and the first game of a three-game home set against the AL West leading Seattle Mariners. He is elidgeable to return Saturday, June 4.
The game is scheduled for an 8:05 p.m. first pitch and the first 7,500 fans 13 years old and younger will receive a 3/4 sleeve A.L West Champs tshirt.
Bautista’s “prima donna” nickname stems from an article published by Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun where he explains why the self-centered showoff deserved the cold clocking. As if standing at home plate to longingly gaze upon his Game Six home run during last season’s ALDS with arms raised like the second coming of a heavenly discophile wasn’t reason enough.
Regardless of how pleased fans, teammates, and current or former players were with the near TKO, MLB was not. Or maybe the league office was, which could explain the, for all intents and purposes, slap on the wrist given to Odor.
Odor was also assigned a $5,000 fine for the punch heard ’round Globe Life Park and beyond, which is not exactly throwing to book at someone. The fine totals roughly two games of pay for Odor who is still on a rookie contract totaling an approximate $500,000. A small group of teammates are expected to pickup the tab on the fine.
There is a secondary problem, according to Jared Sandler by way of Jon Daniels and his weekly radio spot on 105.3 The Fan’s Ben and Skin Show.
As JD just pointed out, a suspended player still occupies a 25-man spot. BUT, Profar would be considered for 2B depending on suspension.
— Jared Sandler (@SandlerJ) May 16, 2016
That leaves the internal options to man second base, because there will be no others so don’t bother asking, as Hanser Alberto and Jurickson Profar. The Rangers have already utilized the 2016 option on Profar – his second of three – and he still has one option remaining, so that is not an issue, either.
So, which one?
*note: It has since been reported by TR Sullivan that the Rangers plan to call-up Profar. Profar hit in the leadoff spot for Round Rock in last night’s ballgame and has been regularly playing second base post-punch.
Filling the hole at second
If defense is your preferred void to fill, there is, statistically, no real wrong answer.
When looking at the UZR – an advanced metric that utilizes play-by-play data and factors in difficulty of the batted ball – over the last season-plus, Odor is, on paper, a below average player at his position.
The -1.0 UZR Odor has posted over that time is well below the leaders – Dee Gordon (7.5, 1st), Jason Kipnis (7.1, 2nd) and Ian Kinsler (6.1, 3rd). But, even when looking at Odor’s play this season his -0.7 UZR ranks 21st among second baseman with at least 100 innings logged.
Of course, the eye-test tells us differently. The 22-year-old routinely makes plays on groundballs in either gap that leave the calmest of fans standing on their feet. It is also fairly safe to say that Odor provides a bit more comfort to Ranger fans than Kinsler (+5.1 UZP compared to Odor) did during his final season with the ballclub.
If nothing else, the chemistry Odor, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland have developed on double-play groundballs is remarkable and will be the most vital to replace over the next week. The Rangers currently lead the majors with 51 ground-ball double plays and sport an MLB-best 58 total double plays.
Which is why the implantation of Alberto into the starting lineup makes an awful lot of sense on the defensive side.
After all, not only was Alberto a recipient of the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove as the best defensive shortstop in the minor leagues, but he and Odor possess nearly the same range on balls put in play to second base over the last two seasons.
Alberto is not near as flashy or edgy, but he has proved to be more than capable with the leather. It is with the lumber that he falls well short.
At this point in his career, the 23-year-old appears to fit into the perfect mold of a utility infielder. Alberto is not going to win you any slugging titles, but he is also not going to wear multiple golden sombreros on a single homestand.
Minimizing the drop-off
Odor has quickly become one of the premier offensive options at his position.
While manning the leadoff spot over the last half month, Odor posted multi-hit performances in 9 of 11 games from April 30 – May 10. He also saw his slash rise from .244/.295/.402 to a much more respectable .309/.338/.551 during that stretch.
However, Odor is currently planted in a 2-for-22, or 3-23 if you could Bautista’s cheek, stretch (not counting last night).
Even still, among players with 100 AB or more this season, his .214 ISO ranks seventh. Keep in mind that Fangraphs considers anything higher than .140 to be average and over .200 to be great.
Since the beginning of last season, his .205 ISO is tops among all second baseman with a minimum of 500 at bats. For those who prefer a little more emphasis on actual base count and not just SLG minus BA, the .335 wOBA Odor has posted over the last season-plus is 9th among the same criteria of second basemen.
Odor has also posted a 3.3 WAR since the beginning of 2015, which is just slightly behind Robinson Cano (3.8) and Brian Dozier (3.7) for a place in the top-10 among active second baseman. Both Dozier (No. 2) and Cano (No. 3) trail Odor atop the aforementioned ISO podium.
In the more elementary categories, Odor is in the top 20 in hits (155, 18th), doubles (31, 16th), home runs (23, 5th), runs (81, 13th), RBIs (82, 10th) and his 10 triples are tied with Dee Gordon atop the list since Opening Day 2015.
All of this, plus the bewildering terrible plate approach that has come over Prince Fielder and left a giant hole in the middle of the order, is why Profar makes the most sense. The kid can hit.
The 23-year-old middle infielder is currently hitting .273/.353/.424 with six doubles, five home runs and 19 RBIs in 139 plate appearances at AAA Round Rock. He also started at second base for the Express in Tuesday afternoon’s 8-3 win over Albuquerque.
Regardless of which way the front office goes, the opportunity to start in place of the suspended Odor would be a reward of sorts for either player. For Alberto, a thank you for his thankless service as the dependable utility infielder, while Profar’s would be a congratulation battling through the multiple recovery processes and rehabs.
Either way, the promotion is only temporary. The Rangers already have their future gold glove, or perhaps Golden Gloves, winning second baseman. I dare you to tell him otherwise.