On the surface, Odor is a bad hitter with an 83 wRC+ since 2018. This left me wondering: why did the Yankees deal two lottery ticket prospects to acquire him? Well, it’s because Odor has data that suggests he’s a few tweaks away from being a much better hitter. If we know anything about the Yankees, it’s how well they can develop hitters, so let’s take a deep dive into the data for Odor.
The Importance of Hitting the Ball Hard and Ideal Launch Angle
How hard a player can hit the ball matters a ton, as harder hit balls are often times hits. Some players can hit the ball extremely hard, and this is what their success hinges on. A lot of them adjust their bat paths to sacrifice contact% for optimizing their launch angle. This generates a batted ball known as a “Barrel” on Baseball Savant, which is anything that matches the profile of a batted ball that has a .500 Batting Average and 1.500 Slugging Percentage on average. This essentially translates to barrels being balls that most of the time should be hits.
Odor was 24th in Barrel% in 2019, having one of the better hard-hit rates in baseball. The weird thing is, he had the 6th worst wRC+ in baseball that year.
What did he do wrong?
Bad Batted Ball Profiles
Odor really struggles with his batted ball splits, meaning his GB/FB/LD ratio is all wrong. He had the 4th highest flyball rate but was bottom 10 in line drive percentage. Hitting flyballs isn’t always bad, they translate into home runs which are the most effective hits in baseball. The issue stems from the lack of line drives showing he’s getting under the ball way too much. He can barrel balls and generate great individual results (30 home runs and 30 doubles in 2019) but he can’t keep this success consistent. It’s why his wOBA fluctuates so much because his style of play peaks and valleys a lot, changing dramatically year after year.
The Yankees can try to help him have a more optimal launch angle, then this batted ball data will translate into consistent success. He has the ability to hammer balls and barrel them, but is that enough to believe he can succeed here?
Rougned Odor Might Make It In New York
As previously stated, it’s just a matter of adjusting his bat path to optimize his launch angle. This is shown in stats like his Dynamic Hard Hit Rate (DHH%) developed by Connor Kurcon. This stat disregards the launch angle of the batted ball, as through his research, he’s determined that even poorly optimized balls in terms of launch angle are still valuable for future success if they’re hit extremely hard.
Odor was 26th among 476 hitters in DHH% in 2019, showing he’s truly got a ton of potential. The Yankees’ analytics department most likely has way more data that shows that they can turn him around, and they’ve done it before with worse hitters. With that lovely short porch in the Bronx, his xHR at Yankee Stadium is 48 since 2019 compared to the 40 he has in that timespan.
The Rougned Odor trade has the potential to be one that we look back on wondering how we got him for free. It’s in your best interest to trust The Ryan Garcia Is Right Foundation (trademark pending) and claim that you’re a believer now before it’s too late.