Blue Jays: Rougned Odor has never been the same. Shucks
A once promising young star, it’s a little strange how Rougned Odor’s career has gone downhill since the infamous punch of the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista.
Since Sportsnet replayed the Blue Jays squaring off against the Texas Rangers during the 2015 and 2016 playoffs, I’ve been re-living those seasons for myself.
Beating the Rangers in consecutive years turned out to be the best part of the playoff run, and the first victory also comes with a signature moment from Jose Bautista now referred to simply as the “Bat Flip”. I’m sure you’ve all watched it a million times by now, but if you’re like me, it never really gets olds.
That celebration never sat right with the Texas Rangers, or many other old school types around the game, and in a way it even ignited a bit of a rivalry between them and the Blue Jays. At the very least, there was always animosity between the two clubs as long as Jose Bautista was wearing Toronto Blue. And for those who’ve forgotten about the retaliation the next season, that’s when Rougned Odor‘s haymaker landed on Bautista’s cheek, which started a bench-clearing brawl.
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I could talk about what happened next, why it happened, or who is to blame, but I’m willing to bet you’ve all been down that road before. However, there’s another interesting wrinkle to the whole thing though, even if it’s not directly related. Odor has never been the same player after that 2016 season.
That punch was thrown on May 15, 2016, and eventually landed the Texas second baseman with a seven game suspension. He went on to put up pretty solid numbers for the rest of that year, but met the Blue Jays again in a re-match of the ALDS as well. Instead of fulfilling what had to be a dream of sending the Blue Jays packing, Odor made a crucial throwing error on the final play of the series, sending the Jays back to the ALCS.
I’m not suggesting that he’s carried some sort of “Blue Jays curse” with him since or anything, but it’s been interesting to see how his career trajectory has changed since 2016. That year he was a promising 22-year-old that looked like a future All-Star calibre player. These days, it’s hard to say how much longer he’ll be able to hold on to a starting gig.
Don’t believe me? Here are his numbers over the last three seasons:
2017- .205/.252/.397, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 162 strikeouts, -0.5 bWAR
2018- .252/.326/.424, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 129 games, 3.1 bWAR
2019- .205/.283/.439, 30 HR, 93 RBI, 178 strikeouts, 0.0 bWAR
Odor had a decent year in 2018, at least compared to the putrid production of the two seasons that sandwich it. A lot of his value that season was actually built on a career best 1.8 dWAR as well though, so the overall number is a little misleading. That said, I’ll admit that he wasn’t terrible in 2018, even if he wasn’t the star that he looked like he could become back during those playoff contests.
He has also maintained some value in the power department, but it’s also come at the cost of a lot of strikeouts, and a very poor OBP. At some point though, power just won’t be enough to keep him in a starting lineup, even if he’s still under contract until at least 2022 with the Rangers to the tune 36 million guaranteed over the next three seasons.
As I said, I’m not suggesting that the Blue Jays have anything to do with his fall from grace, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that final play of his 2016 post-season still haunts him a little bit. He may have gotten in a pretty good shot at Bautista in May, but thankfully the Blue Jays got the last laugh, at least in that rivalry anyway.