Much like the previous positional breakdowns in this series, the Texas Rangers 2B picture is unclear. The scenario, however, is predictable. One man is likely to be “the guy”, but there are others behind him fighting for playing time. Let’s slide in.
On the 40-Man Roster
2019 At a Glance
Main 2nd baseman Rougned Odor started the season with much expected of him. Odor was consistently placed #2 in the batting order early on in the season. Struggles at the plate ensued, however, resulting in Rougie falling to his would-be home in the 7th spot. Feast or famine was the theme with Odor, as he would tip-toe just above the Mendoza Line, a familiar tune to Texas Rangers fans. The huge contract Rougned earned after 2016 cemented him into the lineup with no fear of being sent down to the minors though. He would play in 134 games in 2019.
Although instances were few and far between, we would see Logan Forsythe, Danny Santana, and trade acquisition Nick Solak start a total of 28 games between them at 2B. Forsythe has since elected free agency. Danny Santana produced at team-high levels. Santana forced the team to find a daily position for him, resulting in at least 1 start in every position (except P and C). Nick Solak made his presence felt in a very short time. Primarily used as a DH, Solak would start 11 games at 3B and 5 at 2B. While totals would not raise many eyebrows, he flaunted a .276/.375/.500 batting line in the final month of regular season play.
Spring Competition for Odor
The only guarantee going into Spring Training is there are no guarantees. Logic may tell us that the Texas Rangers 2B position belongs to Rougned Odor until he is outplayed. However, if the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou” taught us anything, it would be that…..
“It’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”
― Ulysses Everett McGill, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The logic used by the Texas Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels is that of squeezing blood from a turnip. Rougned Odor is no turnip, but in 2017 he signed a 6 year / $49,500,000 contract with the Texas Rangers, including a $2,000,000 signing bonus, $49,500,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $8,250,000. In 2020, Odor will earn a base salary of $9,000,000, while carrying a total salary of $9,333,333. This logic factors into the decision to demonstrate patience with Rougie as much as any data analysis of the volatile slugger from Venezuela.
The Texas Rangers outfield is a crowded room. Danny Santana surely leads candidates to man the CF position on opening day. On the other hand, Delino DeShields may have a thing or two to say about that. If Rangers manager Chris Woodward opts to trust in the speedy DeShields, Santana may find himself at 2B competing with Odor for everyday playing time. While both Santana and Odor committed 15 errors apiece in 2019, Santana committed fewer errors fielding. The delivery to first base yielded two more throwing errors for Santana, meaning he could benefit from shorter distances to throw. This is merely speculation, however. Santana’s error totals were greater in the IF, even proportionally to the number of games started in each position. Rest assured, Santana will be in the lineup somewhere. The question is where.
Solak Makes It Interesting
The wild card, Nick Solak, provides the mystery in the equation. Much is to be said about Solak’s averages, both in the minors and after his call-up. A fast start in Spring and a sound glove are tantamount to cutting into Rougned Odor’s playing time. At the very least, Isiah Kiner-Falefa could be in jeopardy if Solak assumes the role of the “super-utility guy”. When Solak did start games after his call-up, they were mostly at DH or 3B, as stated above. Whereas the majority of his starts in AAA Nashville were at 2B, he only saw the position in 5 games on the Major League level. Solak committed 3 errors in his short time with the Texas club. Two of those were throwing errors. A permanent move to 2B may be required of the top prospect, moreover if the team addresses 3B in Free Agency.
Final Thoughts and Early Prediction
Rougned Odor fascinates me to the point I want to see him silence his critics. Sure, if his contract wasn’t such an issue, he may not be on the roster even today. It remains to be seen whether Rangers GM Jon Daniels will continue to weather the contractual storm in hopes that Odor will finally break through the ceiling that has contained him.
Objectively speaking, my perception is that Odor survives another season as the primary second baseman, and the rest of the newly added infielders will continue to develop in the minors. Solak likely continues to float around the infield, serving as a utility player. This leaves, hypothetically, two spots on the 26-man roster. An argument for another day is what will become of Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara. Assuming only one stays, and Anderson Tejeda continues to develop in the minors, a scenario arises where prospect Sherten Apostel makes the opening day roster. Apostel, a corner infielder, seemingly wouldn’t affect Odor’s playing time. All these factors add up to my thinking Rougned Odor will continue to carry the key to the Texas Rangers 2B position.
Previous Positional Breakdowns
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