I've mentioned a few times how much I like Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, who was rushed a bit to the majors in 2014 at age 20, struggled early in 2015 and was sent back down to the minors, then crushed upon his return to Texas.
He's just 22 and coming off a season in which he hit .261/.316/.465, including .292/.334/.527 after his June recall. Yes, the first part of season counts, but even with that awful start he was among the leaders among major league second basemen in slugging percentage. Very impressive, given his age.
Anyway, here's an in-depth look at Odor from Chris Connor of the Shutdown Inning blog:
Within a year, he’ll be considered the best all-around second baseman in baseball.
By 2020, he’ll have established himself as a perennial All-Star.
Assuming we do what’s needed and lock him up after one of the most team-friendly contracts in baseball expires, by 2025 he’ll be light years ahead of any Rangers second baseman in history.
I would argue that the man has the hitting skill set for Cooperstown.
OK, let's not jump the gun too much there, but it's true: If a player has established himself as very good at age 21, his chances for Cooperstown are actually much higher than one might think. (One caveat: It's possible that aging curves have changed and that players -- the really good ones -- reach their peaks earlier than they've historically done. The improvement we project for players like Odor or Carlos Correa might not necessarily happen, or at least to the extent we anticipate.)
Anyway, Odor is battling a deep crop of second basemen in the American League for All-Star honors. Veterans Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia (if he can stay healthy) are still All-Star-caliber players, and Cano had his own monster second half after battling stomach issues in the first half. Jose Altuve is just 26 and already a three-time All-Star. Jason Kipnis was an All-Star in 2013 and 2015. Brian Dozier of the Twins led all major league second basemen in runs (101) and was second only to Cano in RBIs (77). Logan Forsythe of the Rays, out of nowhere, had a superb 2015.
As exciting as Odor's potential is, he does need to fine-tune some aspects of his game. I'd like to see him walk more to boost his on-base percentage, but given his contact ability, he's probably never going to be a big walker. Right now he's more aggressive than effective on the bases, getting caught stealing seven times to his six successful steals. He looks like he has plus-range in the field and a strong arm, but he was credited with minus-7 defensive runs saved thanks in part to a high error rate (a .970 fielding percentage compared to a .983 league average for second basemen).
Those are all areas in which young players often improve, which speaks to his bright future. All-Star? Sure, maybe even in 2016. Best all-around second baseman in the game? Potentially. Hall of Famer? Check back in 15 years.