Rougned Odor #73 of the Texas Rangers knocks down an infield single hit by George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros in the top of the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
The Rangers' 2014 season is a lost cause after four straight years of being serious pennant contenders and two-time winners. So why watch the rest of the season?
Reason: Young bucks
Looking for reasons to watch the Texas Rangers over the second half of the season, even though they're not headed anywhere good? Well, first of all, it's professional baseball. That should be enough. If it's not, the Rangers have some intriguing storylines and one of them is a handful of guys who weren't expected to be big-league contributors this year but have been just that.
The most intriguing, of course, is 20-year-old second baseman Rougned Odor. The youngster, who started the year in Double-A Frisco and was called up on May 8 after the Rangers put Donnie Murphy on the disabled list and decided to designate Josh Wilson for assignment. All of this was an admission that their plan to fill in 21-year-old Jurickson Profar at second base was hopeless once it was announced he would likely miss the entire 2014 season.
Odor was a breathe of fresh air to a reeling Rangers squad and hit .312 over his first 30 games at the big-league level before his numbers started dipping down to their current state — .260 batting average, .296 on-base percentage, three homers and 18 RBIs. Those numbers are obviously far from desirable, but Odor is playing well beyond his years and has shown a nice edge the Rangers like and need. It'll be interesting to see how he progresses over the second half when he'll likely be the everyday second baseman way before he should be. A solid finish to the year could make it interesting for Profar when he's ready to return in 2015.
Another example is the recent hot young name in the Rangers' lineup, Jake Smolinski. The 25-year-old call-up has been compared to Rusty Greer and is red hot over the first seven games of his big-league career. In those games, he's hitting .476 with a .522 on-base percentage, three doubles and five RBIs. You almost hate for him to hit the all-star break because he's so hot.
Then, of course, there's that guy killing the minor leagues in power-hitting infielder Joey Gallo, who was recently named the MLB Futures Game MVP in Minneapolis on Sunday. The ideal plan would be to not call Gallo up in September, but if the Rangers are hurting for attendance and desperate, it wouldn't be a shock. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
So all hope isn't lost, Rangers fans. Yes, it's been a rough year for your team, but there's still plenty of reasons to go out to the yard.