While the tendency is to look for younger, sexier names in the fantasy baseball drafts, Alex Rios keeps on trucking as an outfielder who can really help fill all areas of a stat-sheet.
Rios was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Texas Rangers during the season. Let’s see what he did against what we projected him to do, as well as what he did in 2012.
Actually one of our better projections, even if he went way above our projections in steals. We knew Rios could swipe some bags, but he’d never had more than 34 before, and we weren’t expecting him to go that much above that mark in his Age 32 season.
- Question 1: How will that batting order look?
Answer 1: At this moment, this is what we’re looking at from the Texas order, at least according to MLB Depth Charts.
- Leonys Martin
- Elvis Andrus
- Adrian Beltre
- Prince Fielder
- Alex Rios
- Mitch Moreland
- Geovany Soto
- Craig Gentry
- Jurickson Profar
- Question 2: Is this a good or bad thing for Rios’ fantasy value?
Answer 2: It’s not a good thing. If you want Rios putting up big numbers, then you want him batting in front of Beltre or Prince. He’ll see a lot of fastballs in those situations and when he gets on base, he’ll score an awful lot. With a fairly unimposing group of hitters batting behind him, I’m guessing Rios will see a lot of junk pitches. Actually, pitchers may be even more inclined to throw him those junk pitches knowing that he’s a free-swinger, never walking more than 55 times in a single season and recording 100 or more strikeouts five times.
While below, we projected him below last season’s RBI total, hitting fifth good end up being a good thing for that stat. While Beltre and Fielder aren’t exactly fleet of foot, they get on base a lot and Rios should cash in on plenty of those chances. I also think it will help Rios’ steals, although I can’t imagine him getting to last season’s total of 42.
Now, if I’m Ron Washington and these are my nine guys come opening day, that’s the order I’m putting them in, with the possible exception of flipping Martin and Andrus. It really seems like that’s the order that will generate the most runs for Texas. But unfortunately, it doesn’t bode that great for Rios.
- Question 3: How could he get into a better spot?
Answer 3: Only Washington knows the answer to that. The easy answer is to say that Rios will slide up if Beltre or Prince gets hurt, but let’s assume that doesn’t happen. From this point on, I can imagine this happening in a few ways.
- Either Martin or Andrus struggle early. In that case, I might look for the other to move to the lead-off spot (if he’s not there already) and have Rios slide into the second spot in the order. Profar may also be a candidate for that move so don’t bank too much on it, but it’s a lingering possibility.
- The Rangers acquire another power bat. By that, I mean someone who would go into the 3-5 slots and move Rios up to second (Robinson Cano, for example), or someone who has the power to protect Rios and drive him in, but not a good enough hitter to move into the five spot and bump Rios to six (Nelson Cruz would come to mind).
- Question 4: Will a full year in Texas help?
Answer 4: As far as his supporting cast being better, we’ve already gone over where he likely fits into the lineup and what that means.
As for the park? Conventional wisdom generally says that a move to Texas is a good thing, as it’s quite the live yard. But how does it stack up to Chicago?
Chicago vs. Texas Run Factors
Chicago vs. Texas Home Run Factors
Chicago vs. Texas Hit Factors
For whatever reason, the hits would seem to fall a little better in Texas, which we’ll get to momentarily. But home runs and runs are not that far off, with Chicago even holding an edge in some cases. So, don’t make the assumption that a full year in Texas will inflate the stats. Over the last five years, that’s not necessarily true.
Again, where it would appear to be true is in hits, and that’s not insignificant, given that average is a bit of a question mark with Rios. Remember, this is a guy who hit .227 in 2011. Even if he followed that up with a good .304 in 2012, you definitely wouldn’t mind any edge you can find there.
- Question 5: How does Rios’ 2014 season look?
Answer 5: That’s a great way to finish. Let’s have a look.
Alex Rios: Early 2014 Projections
*We may have done well with Rios’ 2013 projections, but we’re not stopping there. We’re partnering with Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball to crunch even deeper, so that we might provide the most accurate projections possible for 2014. Look for our full Crackerjack projections in our 2014 Draft Kit coming in February.