Are there many players who frustrate fantasy owners as much as Alex Rios? It just feels like every time we want to write him off he produces a big year, but when we are optimistic heading into a season he falls flat on his face.
After struggling in 2011 (.227, 13 HR, 11 SB) owners were hesitant heading into 2012. Of course, all he has done is post the following line:
434 At Bats
.311 Batting Average (135 Hits)
18 Home Runs
17 Stolen Bases
.341 On Base Percentage
.528 Slugging Percentage
.325 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Now, the question facing fantasy owners is exactly how should we value him moving forward? Can we expect him to actually maintain this type of production or should we sell high and pass him on to the next sucker?
The first thing to look at is his average. Rios has always made good contact, with a career strikeout rate of 15.8%. Yes, his current 13.0% mark could regress, but even during his lost 2011 campaign he posted an 11.9% rate. In other words, it isn’t an unrealistic number.
Couple that with a .325 BABIP and a 21.7% line drive rate and there is nothing that screams of an imminent decline in his batting average. I know his past says otherwise, but it’s not unthinkable that he continues to hit at or around .300 for the remainder of the season.
There also nothing in the power indicating regression. Thus far he hasn’t been swinging for the fences, with a 39.2% fly ball rate. He also hasn’t had an unrealistic HR/FB, currently sitting at 12.2%.
Has he matched that number throughout his career? Not consistently, but he was at 11.5% in 2010.
The speed, when healthy, is not something that was ever questioned. With as many as 34 SB in a year, seeing him at 20-25 consistently would be a fair assumption (remember, he did have a toe issue in 2011 that helped contribute to his struggles).
He has shown the propensity to swing For the fences a little more of late (over 50% fly ball rate in July), though that number is back inline in August…
His strikeout rate has been over 18% two of the past three months, but is that even a crippling number?
The bottom line is, for 2012 I would ride him the rest of the way. Outside of past struggles (and one could argue that injuries and poor luck caused those), there is nothing to indicate an upcoming demise.
As far as 2013 is concerned, that is a different story. While I wouldn’t say he is a lock to struggle, he has traded good and poor years of late. In the offseason I would definitely consider selling high and cashing in (though I reserve the right to change my mind). For now, hope that your preseason gamble continues paying dividends.