2011 Projection: Is Alex Rios Being Undervalued?

Currently Alex Rios has an ADP of 60.40, meaning he is being selected at the end of the fifth round or early in the sixth round.  The question is, should be targeting him at this point in the draft? 

The fact is that, coming off an impressive 2010 campaign, it would appear that fantasy owners are significantly undervaluing him.  Those who have bought the draft guide know that I have him ranked 28th overall.  For those who haven’t (and what are you waiting for), you have probably seen the outfield rankings (click here to view) where I have him ranked as the seventh best outfielder.

I may be higher on Rios than many others are so let’s take a look as to why.  First, let’s look at his 2010 statistics:

567 At Bats
.284 Batting Average (161 Hits)
21 Home Runs
88 RBI
89 Runs
34 Stolen Bases
.334 On Base Percentage
.457 Slugging Percentage
.306 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Those are impressive numbers, finally living up to the hype and success that we have all been waiting for.  I know what everyone is thinking; why should we believe that this was the year that he finally turned the corner?

The truth is that it isn’t like we haven’t seen this type of success from him before:

  • He has hit .280 or better in five of his seven seasons
  • He has had at least 79 RBI or more in four of the past five seasons (he had 71 in the other one)
  • He has had over 30 stolen bases in two of the past three years (he had 24 in the other)
  • He’s had 89 runs or more in three of the past four seasons (including a year of 114)

The only number that we can argue isn’t realistic is the power, as it was only the second time in his career that he has hit at least 20 long balls.  At 29-years old, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he is continuing to add power.  He set a career best 11.5% HR/FB in ’10, a mark that he could conceivably better once again.

He does call one of the more favorable hitting ballparks home and of his 21 HR in 2010 only 10 came at U.S. Cellular Field (.276, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 40 R, 10 SB in 272 AB).  Would it surprise anyone if he further improved on that number?

In addition, seeing him at least match, if not improve upon, both his R and RBI totals as the White Sox improved their lineup with the addition of Adam Dunn.

With all the other numbers believable given his performance the past few years it is hard to understand why some people are shying away from him.  Let’s take a look at my projection for 2011:

.290 (174-600), 23 HR, 90 RBI, 95 R, 32 SB, .318 BABIP, .336 OBP, .475 SLG

Likely hitting third in the lineup, is there any reason that we shouldn’t see these types of numbers from him?  Personally I could see selecting him in the third round, depending on how things fall, but would definitely make the selection in the late fourth or early fifth if he is still sitting available.

He brings production across all five categories, with a realistic opportunity to go 20/30/100/100.  Is there any reason not to be willing to pay for that type of upside?  I surely don’t think so.

What are your thoughts on Rios?  Where would you be willing to target him on draft day?  Why?

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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

17 comments

  1. E-Z says:

    I think the main reason only that Rios is getting drafted around 60 rather than 15/20 spots higher and that is because of 2009. If you take that out of the equation then you get a guy you’d expect to be around 20HR, 30SB, .800 OPS with good run totals too. However I think 2009 is still too fresh in the memory of a lot of people, and many may feel that picking a guy in the third round is too much when he’s only 12 months removed from a sub .700 OPS, especially if you see that his post ASB numbers weren’t so great either. If 2009 hadn’t existed then you could overlook the splits, but I think there are questions over which numbers you are drafting.

    Post ASB, his OBP was down 60 points, SLG was down 130 points, half the number of steals (with a much lower success rate), higher K%, lower BB%, big dip in HRs.

    In reality, he has only really produced for half a season from the last two years. I think I’d want a much higher floor from a 3rd round pick.

  2. E-Z says:

    Just to add to this, just want to compare the last 3 half seasons to another outfielder.

    Rios:
    09 PostASB: .224/.624/20R/25RBI/7HR/10SB (219AB)
    10 PreASB: .305/.879/55R/49RBI/15HR/23SB (311AB)
    10 PostASB: .258/.684/34R/39RBI/6HR/11SB (256AB)

    Mystery Player:
    09 PostASB: .306/.846/45R/29RBI/6HR/8SB (288AB)
    10 PreASB: .315/.845/46R/40RBI/6HR/19SB (298AB)
    10 PostASB: .263/.678/34R/29RBI/5HR/18SB (281AB)

    Any thoughts? (A clue is that he isn’t ranked in your top 30 OF.)

    • Nick Tenaglia says:

      EZ-
      I know who the Mystery Player is (because I looked up those stats on ESPN) and comparing Rios to “AP” is a bit of a stretch. He has had only one good season (last year) and his 162 game averages would only put him at 10 HR and 25 SB.

      • E-Z says:

        I’m not saying that I would pick the other guy first, but I’m saying that if you compare the stats then they aren’t so far apart, especially if you consider those stats are the first time the guy’s had a regular starting job and was hitting down the order in 09. There are nearly 200 ADP positions between them, which I think is the real stretch.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    I know you are speaking about Angel Pagan (who, it’s funny, I traded as part of a deal in one of my keeper leagues to acquire Rios).

    One major difference between the two is that Rios has a far higher ceiling. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement.

    Pagan has historically been an injury prone player and 2010 was his first true healthy season so it is fair to say that the jury is still out on him. He also struggled away from CitiField (.260, 15 SB), another red flag.

    Given his history, as well as Rios’ additional power (we know he has it) and more upside in both the R and RBI (he’ll be hitting third in front of Dunn & Konerko), I don’t think it’s close.

  4. Nick Tenaglia says:

    As far as Rios’ ranking is concerned, I don’t think that the Professor is overvaluing him. Realistically, Rios should be putting up 15-20 HR, 25-30 SB, 85-90 R/RBI with a .280+ AVG.

    Looking at the players directly below Rios in the Rankings (Ethier, McCutch, Choo, Pence, Bruce), none of those players will be combining for 40-50 HR/SB. 4 of those 5 players will have a better avg (Choo ~.297; Ethier ~.291; Pence ~.287; McCutch ~.286) but that little bit extra in avg will not make up the difference of 10+ HR/SB

    • AJ says:

      So Pence having 44 HR/SBs last year doesn’t count? Don’t forget he’s two years younger too.

      • Tony says:

        pence is basically a lock for 25/15 and a .290 average.

        mccutch can/should easily go 15/35 this year if not more like 20/35, last year was only his 1st full year, him and bruce are just coming into their own, if bruce can take another step you’re looking at 35HRs and 10sbs…. Rios is just too shaky, the potential is there, but its been there, last year he was a bargain, I think if you take him anywhere before the 6thround there’s a good chance for dissapointment considering what you COULD have taken in the 3rd-5th rounds…

  5. E-Z says:

    I agree Rios has the higher ceiling, much higher. I just think he has a pretty low floor for someone you rank at 28.

    Sure I could see that there is a good chance of Rios hitting .290 20/35, but he’s the only guy ranked around there that I could also see hitting sub .260, and there is realistic possibility that he backs that up with 15/20. I don’t think there is a big profit to be made if you took him late 3rd round but there is a big potential loss.

  6. To me it depends if you are in a three OF or five OF league. In five OF leagues, I absolutely want him early. I selected him with the 37th pick in a recent 12-team five OF draft. In a three OF draft I could perhaps let him slide further into the 4th or early 5th, but I think there’s too much not to like about the guy. The power-sb combo is great. He’s in the right park and in the right lineup.

  7. Chuck says:

    In my latest mock, I picked him up in the 6th. That’ll work, but I’m also chiming in on the trust issue.

    You have Rios (28) ranked 2 spots after Hamilton (26), and talking about Rios’s ceiling being the reason for his placement, but by the same logic, few in baseball have a higher ceiling than Hamilton yet he’s ranked 2 spots above Rios?

  8. Rotoprofessor says:

    Different type of trust issue, honestly. I have two concerns with Hamilton:

    1) Injuries
    2) Can he really sustain his 2010 numbers? He had a .390 BABIP, which we all know he can’t sustain.

    Plus, while Rios is a 20/30 option, Hamilton is is maybe 30/10. Yes, Hamilton has a ton of talent, but he certainly has his flaws as well.

    • Chuck says:

      I’m not saying Hamilton is going to hit .360 again, but with Hamilton’s line drive stroke maximizing extra base hits, he will have a significantly higher BABIP than the rest of the league. This is where the over-use of stats breaks down. An eye test tells you these two players are MILES apart in terms of talent, ceiling, accomplishment, whatever.

  9. RAAANNDDYYY says:

    I don’t believe Rios will hit 3rd. Ozzie already said Dunn would be hitting 3rd or 4th and I think Konerko takes the 3 hole.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I would disagree. I think it makes the most sense to go:

      3) Rios
      4) Dunn
      5) Konerko

      Given the added power, it makes more sense to use Konerko to protect Dunn, as opposed to Rios.

  10. Kyle Johansen says:

    Alexie could have a lot of value hitting in the two-hole behind Pierre and in front of those guys.

  11. ClayHenry says:

    As much as I like Rios, I can’t seem to ignore his relatively low walk rate and OBP. Plus, he hit a high number of GBs in the 2nd half of last year. He seems to be more proned to extended slumps because of his peripherals. Someone like McCutchen has more solid underlying stats.

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