Mixed Waiver Wire: Rougned Odor, Danny Espinosa

I must have a thing for second. I finished there in Mixed Tout Wars in both 2011 and 2012. I was runner-up in AL LABR in 2013. I placed there on multiple occasions in my dynasty football league – although I won that once, barely. More often than not, I get the girl because, if she feels like lovin’ me, if she gets the notion … you guessed it. I just haven’t mustered what it takes to seal the deal, on a number of occasions. Which seems odd, because I like mustard.

I don’t have a thing for second basemen, though. It’s just a coincidence that both of my recs this week play that position. I’m not trying to horn in on another of Scott Strandberg’s territoriesagain. But damn if it ain’t the second time I done so.

2B Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers

Ownership: CBS 22% | Yahoo! 4% | ESPN 2.5%

Fantasy owners were rather quick to pick up the scent in very deep leagues, but his ownership rate has stagnated. Fair enough. Odor, 20, is far from a finished product. He came straight from Double-A Frisco after a total of 282 plate appearances at the level, about half of them last year and the rest in this. He recorded strikeout rates on the farm that would be below league average in The Show, but the same is true of his walk rates. He’s 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds.

Odor, the organization’s top prospect entering this season, has given us a whiff of his upside, however. In that combined time at the Class AA level, he accrued 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases. In 425 plate appearances at Advanced Class A Myrtle Beach last year, he knocked out a handful and swiped 27 bags. There’s a lot of raw ability here, even if he’s not mature enough, mentally or physically, to deliver it on a consistent basis.

Odor might really stink it up, but I doubt it, because the playing time almost certainly won’t go away. The probability that he takes off is probably low if difficult to quantify, but the fact that he has a chance to do so is worth the roster spot. There’s more than a hint of the pop and speed lurking in Odor’s game that isn’t in many backup middle infielders that folks keep around.

The Rangers look like eventual sellers, a club ready to turn over some at-bats and innings to promising youths. If Mitch Moreland doesn’t need serious ankle surgery after all, Derek Holland returns to produce results like it was 2012 and Geovany Soto remembers how to hit .280 with 20 bombs when he comes back, then maybe they’d hold out. Not many ifs, and not the most hopeful ones, though. Hmmm, how about if Joe Saunders pitches like Sandy Koufax did in the second half of a too short career? Besides, even if the players in Texas who are still breathing play heroic roles in what turns out to be a future Disney film, Jurickson Profar (partially torn muscle in right shoulder, aggravated in late May) isn’t coming back this season.

We talked about this youngster on the pod a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to have a player like Odor on my bench in a 12-team mixed league. My roster in the only one of those types in which I play has both Robinson Cano and Jason Kipnis on it, so I can’t accommodate. Besides, it’s an OBP league, where Odor definitely less appealing. He probably won’t finish with the .300 average he has now – something closer to .265 or .270, like his projections say, seems about right. But he already has a pair of bombs, plays in that nice yard and will hit near the bottom of the order, where Texas won’t put pressure on him but will let him do his thing.

2B Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals

Ownership: CBS 13% | Yahoo! 3% | ESPN 2.0%

This is likely a short-term addition. Left fielder Bryce Harper may return to the Nats near the beginning of next month, in effect rendering their improvised lineup a piece of history. But as long as Matt Williams believes that Ryan Zimmerman in left field is a good idea, Espinosa will receive plenty of opportunities to play.

Washington began this way when Zimmerman hit the shelf in April, of course, and Espinosa validated the club’s choice to depend on him. He slashed .288/.341/.488, with three round-trippers and the same number of pilfered bases, in the season’s first month. The local papers ran features on him that highlighted all his hard work spent in the offseason to remove some of the miss out of his long swing. The staff began to look for ways that the club could keep him in the lineup once everyone is healthy. They’re aware of the value of his plus-plus glove.

But it fell apart in May. Look at that .125/.195/.263 slash line. Williams discussed the switch hitter’s slide near the end of the month. The writer of that one, James Wagner, hits on some of glaring faults in Espinosa’s plate discipline and where those indicators headed, so I won’t repeat them. Well done, and thanks. We scratch each other’s backs. Symbiosis. Love.

Espinosa is on his way out of the funk in June. Not just coincidentally, he’s reduced his chase rate to an early-season level and has brought up the swing rate in the zone. He’s hit .344 and has thieved a base in the month.

Espinosa isn’t dependable. His swing is a constant work-in-progress. He educes an off feeling in my intestinal area, a slight queasiness. Of course, that could also be all the Greek yogurt, knockoff sandwich creme cookies and coffee I’ve consumed lately. But he’s already shown us the 20-20 potential. I want players at the end of my roster who can give me those relatively low-frequency counting stats – ding dongs and boosted bases – for as long as I can get them.

I hope to give Espinosa a second chance in the Mixed Tout Draft league (15-team mixed, OBP) this weekend. (Correct: That means I claimed him earlier this season. He registered a meager .265 OBP for my squad but gave me six homers and five steals in 140 at-bats. I’m pleased.) I considered it this past Sunday, but there isn’t a player on my roster whom I was willing to drop. I hope that the competition for his services, however temporary, isn’t great this weekend, once one of my players inevitably hits the DL.

Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.

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Rusty Kuntz
9 years ago

Do you get any fantasy league points for making bad puns about Odor’s name?

Jeff G
9 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Kuntz