When the Rangers traded Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder in November of 2013, Texas lost its edge. For years Kinsler was the guy other teams loved to hate because he was either screaming "GET THE #&%^ OFF OUR FIELD!" or skipping to first base after hitting a series-clinching dinger in the first ever playoff series win in franchise history.
Kinsler is what can only be described as a dirtbag. But he was our dirtbag.
Without Kinsler, however, the Rangers didn't really have anyone for opponents to pin derision on. Who's going to get mad at Adrian Beltre? He's an all-time great. Fielder is a living teddy bear. Leonys Martin will gun you down from the outfield but he sounds like his larynx is made out of a slide whistle when he talks. Shin-Soo Choo is for us to get mad at, not the other team.
The Rangers lacked a guy who looked like winning that night's game was the most important thing to ever happen in human history. Enter Rougned Odor. The reigning American League Player of the Week is everything Kinsler was as a competitor and, make no mistake, he's already on his way to being as hated around parks across the country as he is beloved in Arlington simply because he's that special combination of being good at baseball and knowing he's good at baseball.
While Roogie has a long way to go to match Kinsler's production as perhaps the greatest second baseman in team history, he's already high on the Kinsler dude-who-will-do-anything-to-win-and-might-style-on-you-while-he-does-it intensity meter. I mean, Kinsler never incited a brawl in A-Ball over words exchanged on a ground out at second base like Roogie. Kinsler never nearly single-handedly made the Rangers/Astros rivalry an actual real thing just by telling Hank Conger that the game of baseball goes by Roogie-pace now.
How does Odor follow up causing a benches clearing brouhaha?
A batflip on a triple and screaming his lungs out as he rounds the bases. The crowd at Minute Maid Park rained boos upon Roogie for the rest of that series and probably will do so for the rest of his career. That's just one of 30 parks to go.
Odor is still just 21 years old so maybe he will mature from machismo displays into a more veteran ferocity. But I kind of hope not. One of my favorite things about Kinsler was when he'd lose his mind after an umpire dared to side against him. It's an immature act for sure, but it's cathartic to see a player act out your desire to tell an umpire to shove it.
Odor doesn't really go after the umps, though. He's saved his brashness for the opposing side thus far and it's begun to pay off. The Rangers' top prospect according to Baseball America heading into the 2014 season, Odor reached the big leagues way before anyone expected last season mostly because Jurickson Profar's shoulder wouldn't allow him to take hold of Kinsler's vacated spot at second base.
Odor's rookie season in 2014 was fairly decent as he slashed .259/.297/.402 in 114 games while learning the big league game at second base on the fly as a 20 year old. So, it was with great disappointment to see Odor stumble out of the gates this season as the team was hopeful that he'd grab the second base job and hold onto for the next decade.
Odor was the Rangers' Opening Day starter at second base but by early May he was hitting .144 and saw his play in the field regressing as well. Roogie's confidence was seemingly shattered and, for a player fueled by a sense of swagger, a Roogie without confidence is no Roogie at all. The Rangers shipped Odor down to Triple-A Round Rock to get his mind right. Odor played in 30 games for the Express, hit .352/.426/.639, and worked on his defense. Perhaps most importantly, he remembered that he's a badass.
Upon his return, all Odor has done is hit. Up until this current homestand, and through being named the player of the week, Odor was hitting .367 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs since his return to the Rangers on June 15. In the second half of the season, Odor is slashing .302/.333/.698. When you play like that, you're allowed to be as cocky as you want.
If Odor were an Angel, oh man. The hate would burn worse than sitting on the third base side at The Ballpark during a summer day game in Texas. If he were an A's player, we would get sick of his antics just around the time Billy Beane traded him for some unsung prospect whose walk rate mysteriously rises tenfold. If he were a Mariner, well, we'd probably feel sorry for him up until he went full Kyle Seager on us.
But Roogie is our new dirtbag and it looks like we'll have many years of watching him get under the skin of fans and teams to our delight and their frustration.
Maytag brand teamed up with Major League Baseball to become the official washer and dryer of the MLB for the first time in company and league history. Sliding, diving and other "filthy" plays are some of the most fun and exciting parts of baseball, and nothing is better equipped to handle the filthiest of baseball stains than Maytag brand washers and dryers. Maytag brand and MLB are seeking the "Filthiest Plays of the Week." To vote for your favorite filthy play and to learn more, visit MLB.com/Maytag.