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Thank You, Rougned

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A Unique Presence Finally Leaves the Texas Rangers

MLB: Texas Rangers at Chicago Cubs (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

In an unceremonious zoom call, many fans received the news they had desperately wanted for months, if not years. Rougned Odor is going to be designated for assignment. As the perfect embodiment of the last five years of Rangers baseball, Odor had been the favorite punching bag of LSB’s most boisterous segment. His career floundered in a seemingly endless valley, disrupted only by the occasional month-long peak.

However, you’re lying to yourself if you’re a Rangers fan who denies once having hope for Rougie’s career. Having lost Yu Darvish, Martín Peréz, Jurickson Profar, and Matt Harrison to season-ending injuries, and just days from losing Prince Fielder to the first of his neck injuries, a remarkably confident twenty-year-old arrived in Texas. With just 138 plate appearances above A+ Myrtle Beach, Rougned Odor emerged from the depths of what was then the most injury-riddled season in MLB history to provide some glimmer of hope. Wearing #73, he may have provided much more than a glimmer:

That tantalizing rookie performance buoyed fans’ collective hopes that the Rangers had found an heir to Ian Kinsler. While certainly a disappointment to those expectations, Rougned does leave the franchise holding the team record for home runs against the Houston Astros. The franchise list for most homers versus the Astros puts him in nice company:

  1. Rougned Odor: 20 HRs
  2. Adrián Beltré: 18 HRs
  3. Joey Gallo: 12 HRs
  4. Shin-Soo Choo: 12 HRs
  5. Nelson Cruz 12 HRs

After tying Ken Griffey Jr. at 49 Home Runs in his age 21 and 22 seasons, which was good for 31st most in MLB history, Rougned Odor signed a six-year, $49.5M pact with the Texas Rangers. I celebrated the deal, as did many here at LSB, seen most prominently in I’m with Busey’s comments upon learning of the extension:

IWB’s baseball erection will officially last long enough that he’ll need to see a doctor.

Posted by I’m with Busey on Mar 30, 2017 | 10:50 AM

Similarly, I thought the franchise had just locked up its cornerstone at 2B. Even while noting the contract’s inherent risk, Jobu - LSB’s chief accountant - endorsed the deal:

Additional surplus: 2021 – 2023. If he’s only a 2-win player, then we get some benefit here, but not a ton. That said, we aren’t risking much; like you said, he really only needs to play at a 1.5-2 win level to justify those later years. So I agree with you that it’s a great deal.

Posted by Jobu on Mar 30, 2017 | 12:12 PM

When a player puts up a top-50 performance in MLB history in their age 21 and 22 seasons, it’s to be reasonably expected that they would improve over the following seasons. We all know where it went from there. The improvement never came.

I’m not here to relitigate the years-old arguments we’ve each seen in the comments section. Amidst the celebratory mood of yesterday’s DFA announcement thread, I simply wanted to dig up those memories where, in those 2015 and 2016 walk-off situations, none of us wanted another person at the plate. Whether the Rangers were down by 1-run in the bottom of the ninth against a lockdown closer, or in a bases-loaded situation against the A’s, I absolutely wanted Rougned Odor at the plate:

The famed walk-off hit-by-pitch:

While the last several years of deficient performances made the very mention of Rougned Odor’s name a landmine across every LSB comment section, we’ll always have these memories of the luckiest team in MLB history.

Had his performance imploded all at once, rather than dragging out with brief flashes of elite statistical output, Odor’s pending DFA might be a little bit easier. But this was a soul-sucking protracted death, for not only one of the franchise’s most entertaining players, but for the entire organization’s player development reputation. The inability to finish off development at the major-league level hamstrung the franchise, and left us with yesterday’s result. For some, that failure will undoubtedly be how they remember Rougned Odor’s tenure as a Texas Ranger.

My hope is that with the progress of time, and a little bit of perspective, some of those Odor extremists lighten up. After all, the gold chain, the unbuttoned jersey, the enormous globs of pine tar on his batting helmet, and an unshakeable confidence remain the iconic features of the questionably-listed 5’ 11” Venezuelan’s tenure in Arlington.

On one hand, we can call that hubris. The designation certainly fits. Conversely, I choose to remember it as an infectious joy injected into each of the moments of some of the most entertaining teams in this franchise’s history. When the sweet spot of that gargantuan swing, which left him so exposed to any breaking pitch, made contact - it was a sight to behold. That famous turn, glare towards the dugout, and drop of the bat as Rougie began to jog the bases is forever seared into my brain, and don’t pretend you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about:

GIF

That exhilarating style may soon be in familiar grounds for Rangers castaways, with the Baltimore Orioles suddenly in need of a second baseman:

Hopefully, Odor’s able to recapture the brilliance of his younger years. Every spring training, a leaf would appear to turn anew, and he would provide us, in his ceaseless struggle to improve, endless content to yell at each other about. For that, and the undeniable excitement he brought to each game, I will always say, “thank you, Rougned.”