A few weeks ago, I wrote about my favorite Andrew Miller fun fact. It’s no longer true, but, at the time, Miller was generating a higher rate of swings at would-be balls than he was generating at would-be strikes. That is, batters were making worse decisions than they’d make by flipping a coin. It was so absurd a fun fact it almost couldn’t possibly hold up, and it hasn’t, but it speaks to Miller’s early dominance in a way that few statistics could. It painted a picture of utter helplessness.
If that kind of thing is good for a pitcher, it stands to reason it’s bad for a hitter. Allow me to show you something. From our leaderboards, over the past 30 days:
Now that I look at this again, it’s weird to see Joe Mauer. Maybe there’s something to be written about Joe Mauer. But I want to focus on the first name, that being Rougned Odor. Odor hasn’t quite posted a higher O-Swing% than Z-Swing%, but he’s come dangerously close, and much closer than anyone else, among those qualified peers. Odor has that rate gap of six percentage points. Runner-up is at 16. Big difference. And small difference. You get it.
I wouldn’t say discipline has ever been Odor’s strong suit, at least not in the way we think of it. But he hasn’t before been this ugly for this long. He’s simultaneously over-aggressive and over-passive, and I don’t know if it’s possible to spin that in a good way. Let me take that back. No, it is not. It is not possible to spin that in a good way.
The split was over the past 30 days. What’s interesting is that Odor had a good start to the season. Through May 11, he owned a 125 wRC+. Since May 13, he’s posted a 38 wRC+, with one walk and 21 strikeouts. With something like this, the endpoints tend to be arbitrary, and it’s not like these endpoints aren’t arbitrary, but I will note that, on May 13, the Rangers began that home series against the Blue Jays, the series in which Odor delivered an urgent memo of disapproval to Jose Bautista’s face. If I wanted to read too much into that, I could suggest that Odor has been playing on emotion for weeks. In reality, it’s probably a random slump with convenient timing. Odor lost control of his discipline, just as he was losing control of his discipline.
There’s something else here. Through May 11, Odor saw 52% fastballs. Since May 13, he’s seen 43% fastballs, and that’s the lowest rate in all of baseball. And this, presumably, isn’t unrelated to the plate-discipline numbers above. Odor’s been looking for fastballs, and he’s shown a willingness to over-expand. So pitchers haven’t had to come after him, as Odor hasn’t shown he can lay off of secondary pitches consistently. If anything, too many of the pitches he’s been laying off have been strikes. Everything is all tangled, and the result has been a pretty lousy second baseman.
Odor is better than this, and before long, I assume he’ll start playing better than this. It’s a question of magnitude, and it’s a question of whether Jurickson Profar should slide in every so often. When Odor is running a wRC+ around 110 or 120, you want him in the lineup every day. If he’s more like an 80 or 90, then for Profar, that should be an opportunity. You don’t want to give up on Odor, but Profar needs to play somewhere. Lately, Odor hasn’t done much to fend him off.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.
Plate discipline has probably been the least of Odor’s discipline worries over the last 30 days.