If you follow the Texas Rangers, you know that Rougned Odor is a polarizing figure. To put it in perspective, the last hit from Odor that Rangers fans collectively treasure was not with a bat, but rather a fist that connected with José Bautista's jaw.
That was in 2016.
Most of you probably know the story by now. The Rangers signed Odor to a six-year contract following the 2016 season, which by all accounts, Odor has not met expectations. Otherwise, he wouldn't be entertaining a position switch to get back into the starting lineup.
In our previews of second base and third base, we've touched on Odor's initial indifference of moving over to third base — a position he has never played in his big league career. However, Odor has been eager for opportunities at the hot corner, which is music to his manager's ears.
"Honestly, I'll give him credit, I wasn't sure how that was going to go down," Chris Woodward said. "But he has fully embraced third base. He goes out there and works every day."
Chris Woodward did touch on Odor's honesty about how he views himself, as second base still might be his ultimate goal. However, any thoughts of second base haven't seemed to deter Odor away from any dedication of learning how to play the hot corner.
In addition, he's played the position quite well in Cactus League action.
"I don't think he's taken a ground ball at second [base] in three or four days," Woodward said. "I think he sees what's happening and realizes the quicker he can learn how to play third base and make himself an option there, the quicker it is for myself and our staff to decide whether he can fit that role."
One person who believes Odor can do it is teammate and fellow infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is coming off a season where he won a Gold Glove at third base.
As a natural shortstop, and someone who has also had success at the hot corner, Kiner-Falefa believes third base could help Odor in multiple ways.
"I actually I like him there," Kiner-Falefa said. "I think second base and shortstop are more thinking positions. As a third baseman, and if you look at Rougie's personality, it matches him a lot better. When he's standing out there at third base, he's not thinking much. He's just having a good time."
Both Woodward and Kiner-Falefa believe Odor has the skill set to succeed at third base. He has a strong arm, and Woodward has talked — as a former infielder in his playing days — about how Odor has committed to "overtraining" at a position that relies heavily on the ability to react very quickly.
More importantly, if Odor is at a position that takes away the temptation to overthink things, it could help unlock any struggles at the plate.
"When he's not thinking, that guy is unstoppable," Kiner-Falefa said. "I think having him at third base is just going to ease him, and is going to let him just be a power hitter."
Consistency has always been the issue with Odor. When he's hot, he's dangerous. When he's struggling, armchair GM's are out to have him traded or designated for assignment.
The Rangers are a better team with a good Rougned Odor. If third base can help him get to the next level, they'll take it.
"When he goes into something, he doesn't like to get embarrassed," Woodward said. "He wants to make sure he's out there competing. But overall, I've been extremely impressed."
Promo photo: Kelly Gavin / Courtesy of the Texas Rangers