Is Rougned Odor The Next Yankee Breakout Candidate?

Someone to keep an eye on or just a meaningless flier?

Didi Gregorius. Aaron Hicks. Luke Voit. Gio Urshela. Mike TauchmanBrian Cashman has an exceptionally strong résumé when it comes to acquiring position players at a cheap price and watching the Yankees’ Player Development team help them become productive players. This impressive history makes the Yankees’ most recent transaction—acquiring the once-designated-for-assignment Rougned Odor from the Rangers—extra interesting.

Part of me thinks I am just overthinking this. Texas is picking up just about the entirety of Odor’s contract, so perhaps the Yankees saw it as a low-risk investment that more than likely will not produce a high reward. However, on the other hand, the Yankees did part with two young players from their farm system (albeit no one they will desperately miss) in Josh Stowers and Antonio CabelloAdditionally, the Yankees already have Derek Dietrich at their alternate site, the de facto next-man-up if someone on their active roster gets hurt, so they had to have seen something in Odor.


Playing Time?


It’s probably a little bit premature to go running to pick up Rougned Odor in your fantasy leagues. The Yankees arguably have the best lineup in baseball, so there’s pretty much nothing Odor can do to take away playing time from any of their current starting position players.

The good news is, it’s safe to assume Odor is ahead of Dietrich, Mike Fordand Tyler Wade in terms of bench infield options. Additionally, Jay Brucewho has been filling in for Luke Voit as the Yankees’ everyday first baseman, has gotten off to a slow start, perhaps opening up an opportunity for Odor to get some reps. 

However, in order to feel comfortable about Odor as a legitimate fantasy option, it may take another injury to a key Yankee. If that were to happen, the runs and RBI opportunities from playing in such a good lineup might alone be enough to warrant some consideration




Despite subpar offensive production most of his career, Odor has been known to hit the ball hard, especially over his last two seasons. Amazingly, Odor is one of just five second basemen in baseball history with at least three 30-HR seasons, despite having a wRC+ below 100 in two of those three. That’s pretty much as one-dimensional as you can get.

Rougned Odor Contact Stats

Odor does not make contact too often, but when he does, he can hit. His bat should benefit enormously from the notorious Yankee Stadium short porch in right field. As a left-handed hitter, Odor has a career Pull% of 43.7%, which is well above average. According to Baseball Savant, Odor would have hit eight extra home runs over the last two seasons, had he played at Yankee Stadium.


Dynamic Hard Hit%


Last May, Connor Kurcon introduced Dynamic Hard Hit% in an FSWA award-winning research article. If you haven’t checked it out, I urge you to pause right here and read Connor’s piece before you continue. To summarize, Connor claimed that we have been thinking about the qualification of a “hard-hit ball” incorrectly.

Baseball Savant classifies any batted ball with an exit velocity of 95 MPH or greater as a hard-hit ball. However, Connor developed a formula that determines a hard-hit ball as a function of exit velocity, and coined the ratio “Dynamic Hard Hit%.”

Data Visualization by @Kollauf on Twitter

As described by the curve above, the DHH threshold forms a parabolic curve, peaking at 6 degrees, the optimal launch angle for hard-hit balls.

Moreover, Connor took his work one step further, as he developed TrueHit, a wOBAcon predictor as a function of DHH%. As it turns out, TrueHit predicts the following year’s wOBAcon better than xwOBAcon or Hard Hit%. He pointed out that many of the Yankees’ low-cost acquisitions in recent history have been players with a higher TrueHit than wOBAcon.

Is this the Yankees’ Secret?

Odor fits the mold here, as a player who TrueHit likes significantly more than xwOBA. Perhaps Connor is on to something. Maybe the Yankees front office targets players with this profile, hoping to rejuvenate their careers, and eventually succeeding. This offers some excitement for Odor to be the next in line.


The Downside


This all seems too good to be true, right? Why was Rougned Odora player with such a strong batted ball profile, practically available for free? Keep in mind, everything discussed above is what happens when Odor actually makes contact with the ball.

The problem is, that doesn’t happen nearly as much as we would like.  There’s a reason why he hasn’t had a season with a wRC+ above 100 since 2016.

Rougned Odor Plate Discipline Metrics

His biggest problem is chasing pitches out of the strike zone, and it’s not an easy fix. Even his whiff rate is not as terrible as many make it out to be.

Rougned Odor Chase Rate by Pitch Type 2018-2020

Although Odor is significantly worse than the league average hitter at chasing any pitch out of the zone, his biggest weakness is clearly on offspeed pitches. His lack of plate discipline is the reason why he rarely walks, the main issue holding him back from truly unlocking his potential.

It’s also what separates Odor from aforementioned players like Aaron Hicks, Luke Voitand Mike Tauchman, all of whom were very disciplined hitters even before turning around their career with the Yankees.


So Is He Worth It?


Considering the Yankees gave up next-to-nothing, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Yankees really regret making this trade. Even if Odor contributes absolutely nothing in 2021, which is a legitimate possibility, the worst he could’ve done was take a roster spot away from a player who likely isn’t much better.

For fantasy, I’d probably hold off from picking him up for now, unless we’re talking about a super deep league. However, he is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the near future and will become a must-add if any current Yankee starter were to go down.


Photos by Chris Martino/Flickr & Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

Jeremy Siegel

Jeremy is currently a senior studying Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a writer and data science staffer here at Pitcher List. His goal is to one day work in the analytics department of the front office of an MLB team

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