It takes 502 plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. As such, when you bring up the leaders among second basemen from a year ago, you see 20 names, and Rougned Odor appears nowhere on the list.
Expand it just a little, though, Say instead of needing 3.1 plate appearances per team game, you needed 2.8. That brings us to 450 plate appearances, and expands the list of second basemen to 26. Of course, most of that list is made up of guys who didn't get to 502 for good reasons. Omar Infante, to pick a name, didn't get to 502 plate appearances because he was cover-your-eyes bad.
But Odor? Odor had a weird year. He spent just over a month in the minors from early May to mid-June, the result of a .144/.252/.233 start to the season that was a huge disappointment. It was accompanied by a .188 BABIP, so it's safe to say Odor had some bad luck en route to that demotion, but BABIP SHMABIP, even the most sabermetrically inclined team would be hard-pressed to keep running a 21-year-old with that slash line out there.
So between bad performance and AAA time, you could be excused for pretending Odor's season didn't start until June 15, his recall. And oh, the "season" he had.
Odor played 91 games after his recall. During that time, he hit .292/.334/.527, with 15 home runs, 46 runs and 52 RBI. If you extrapolate those numbers over a full season (call it 150 games, assuming he still wouldn't play every game), and here's where Odor would have ranked among those 20 qualified second basemen a year ago:
- Seventh in batting average
- Ninth in on-base percentage
- First in slugging percentage (and not by a little; Odor was at .527, with Jose Altuve the "real" leader at .459)
- First in ISO (Odor's .235 over Brian Dozier's .209)
- Second in home runs (He extrapolates to 25, behind only Dozier)
- Eighth in runs
- First in RBI (He was at a pace of 86; Robinson Cano led the position with 79)
- Tied for first in wRC+ (He, Jason Kipnis and Logan Forsythe all at 126)
And all this with a .305 BABIP that is basically in line with what you'd expect from a full-season Odor.
I'm not saying that Odor's brief demotion flipped a switch, that he's going to put those numbers up over a full season. That wouldn't be a fair expectation. I will say that it's a possibility, that it's within his skill set, but no, I doubt Odor ends the season as the No. 1 second baseman, which that stat line would basically make him. And Odor does have flaws; he walks at basically a 5 percent rate, which is not so great. He's 10-for-24 in his two seasons stealing bases, which ... basically, dude, stop running or get better at it.
But this is a 22-year-old kid who just spent more than half a season performing at an MVP level. Think I'm exaggerating? Read these two tweets:
You know what, guys? Roogie Odor: AL MVP 2016.— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) February 6, 2016
Pet fresh carpet odor eliminator..you da real mvp #Salute— Clay Brown (@brown24_c) January 10, 2016
Okay, that second one doesn't really count. I just saw "odor" and "MVP" and got excited. But Stellini's tweet? That's legit. Odor, if all goes perfectly, has MVP potential. Most likely scenario isn't MVP, sure. It's somewhere between Odor's crazy post-return performance and his demotion-worthy first month. A good second baseman, a fantasy starter even.
Barring injury, Odor will reach those 502 plate appearances this year. He'll be on that end-of-season list of qualified second basemen. Projections have him as a 22-year-old with nearly 20 home runs (on one side of the line or the other, and an OPS nearer .800 than .700. That's the makings of a superstar.
Don't draft him like he is a superstar. But for sure, draft him like he has that in his quiver. He certainly does.