“Once a player exhibits a skill, he owns it” – Ron Shandler
“except for Alex Rios, he just leases it every other season” – Fantasy Baseball
When a large star burns away all of its energy, it implodes, resulting in a massively destructive explosion called a supernova. The remnant of that destruction is oftentimes a black hole. We can observe these events happening every other year in late fall as Alex Rios plays his last game, exhausting his last bit of energy.
The following spring, some unlucky owner ventures too close during the draft and is sucked into the black hole formerly known as Alex Rios. For the last few years this has been the perception of Alex Rios, a supremely diverse, inconsistent talent who kills fantasy owners one year and shines brightly the next. In fantasy drafts, perception IS reality. In the season, however, reality is reality and that provides you a real opportunity to grab Rios much later than he deserves.
Rios’ breakout came in 2006 with the Blue Jays as he showcased his all around talent by hitting .302 with 17 HR to go along with 15 SB in just under 500 AB. For the following 3 seasons, Rios averaged a combined HR/SB total above 40 to go along with a batting average that fell below .290 just once.
In essence, Rios’ terrible 2011 season has been the statistical anomaly in an otherwise impressive career. A quick glance at his numbers that season indicates his terrible luck, as his BABIP fell to .237, down from a career norm of .308. Bad luck is bad luck, and Rios had a season full of it in 2011.
Projecting his numbers this season is surprisingly simple. We know that we can depend on those 40 combined steals and home runs to go along with an average in the neighborhood of .290, and these are BASELINE stats.
My projection for Alex Rios: .304/80 R/22 HR/90 RBI/21 SB
He’s a great value in the 7th round and a perfect fit for owners deciding to use early round picks on positions of need (read 2b and SS). Take him with confidence and don’t be surprised if he is a top 10 outfielder at season’s end.
We’ll see you again tomorrow with my next installment, Craig Kimbrel… why haven’t you drafted him yet?