2015 Fantasy Baseball Player Profile: Alex Rios
Published: Feb 04, 2015
Alex Rios signed a 1-year, $11 million deal to play for the Royals in 2015. Will the former 20/20 performer, who as recently as 2013 was a fantasy star, rebound from an utterly down season that has caused nearly everyone in the fantasy community to go running every time his name is mentioned?
Rios last appeared in the minors in 2006, and his last minor league season of 100 games played was in 2003.
In 2004 he was ranked the #6 prospect in baseball According to Baseball America.
TOTALS: .293/.335/.401 with 20 homers, 64 steals, 268 RBIs and 262 runs scored in 556 games.
Not going to break down his career by year to year in great detail like I normally do. You know who Rios is. I'll just list for you his yearly 5x5 fantasy numbers and at-bats.
2004: .286-1-28-55-15 in 426 at-bats
2005: .262-10-59-71-14 in 481 at-bats
2006: .302-17-82-6815 in 450 at-bats
2007: .297-24-85-114-17 in 643 at-bats
2008: .291-15-79-91-32 in 635 at-bats
2009: .247-17-71-63-24 in 582 at-bats
2010: .284-21-88-89-34 in 567 at-bats
2011: .227-13-44-64-11 in 537 at-bats
2012: .304-25-91-93-23 in 605 at-bats
2013: .278-18-81-83-42 in 616 at-bats
2014: .280-4-54-54-17 in 492 at-bats
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Alex Rios turns 34 on February 18th. Players can "crap out" at 33 years of age, but with modern day training methods it's a rare occurrence that a guy just loses it at that age. Did Rios lose "it" in his lone season with the Rangers or will a rebound be coming in 2015?
First off, Rios just wasn't healthy last season. As you can see above, his '14 effort was his first with less than 537 at-bats since 2006 as he suffered from a myriad of bumps and bruises, most substantially, a thumb issue that sidelined him for 22 games that precluded him from playing after September 4th. That clearly didn't help his production.
'But Ray, Rios was so bad last year it can't just be his thumb.'
That is correct, but not at the same time.
What ailed him last year cannot be blamed completely on his thumb. Agreed.
I will also agree with the assessment that Rios was terrible in certain respects in 2014. He had a decade low homer total and runs scored totals, and his total of 54 RBIs was the second worst mark he's posted since 2005. But, and yes there is a "but," I'm also going to suggest to you that Rios was nowhere near as bad as you think he was. And this is the heart of the issue that can plague us in the fantasy game.
In the real world we want results. We don't care how someone does something, we just want it done. How many times have you said at work - just do your job and get it done? We all say it daily. Results are all that matters in our hectic world. In this respect the 2014 version of Alex Rios was a total disaster as his fantasy production was not even close to "getting it done." But here's that "but" again... he wasn't that bad. Seriously. Hear me out before you go calling my boss asking for my job cause you think I've blown a fuse.
(1) Rios hit .280 last season. His career mark is .278.
(2) Rios had a .311 OBP last season. His career mark is .323.
His effort in these two measure was "normal."
(3) Rios stole 17 bases last season. His career average is 22 a season. Not that far off.
And here is where it really starts to get interesting.
(4) Rios had a 17.9 percent K-rate in 2014. His career mark is 16.1. He didn't strike out appreciably more than normal.
(5) Rios had a 4.4 percent walk rate. Though that was below his 5.9 percent career rate it was also the third time in four years that the mark was under 4.8 percent.
(6) Rios had a 42.8 percent ground ball rate, an exact match for his career norm.
(7) Rios had a 33.7 percent fly ball rate. While that was below his 37.2 percent career rate, it certainly wasn't a crazy low number.
(8) Where did Rios lose those fly balls too? He hit more liners. That's normally a great tradeoff. Rios posted a 23.5 percent line drive rate in 2014. His career mark is 20.0 percent. There's more to this story though. Rios' 23.5 percent mark wasn't just better than his career average, it was a career best mark. Career best.
(9) Rios had a .335 BABIP in 2014. His career mark is .311. The last time he bettered that .335 mark was back in 2006 when he beat it by one point at .336.
(10) Rios swing at 30.9 percent of pitches thrown outside the strike zone. That was his second lowest mark in four years.
(11) Rios swing at 63.2 percent of pitches inside the strike zone. His career mark is 64.3 percent.
(12) Rios had a swinging strike percentage of 7.3 percent in 2014. His career mark is 7.2.
That's TWELVE data points that show Rios to have performed pretty much the same as he always has. Shocking isn't it? The fact is that Rios simply didn't suffer from the skills decline that many posit he did. So what does explain the down effort?
I noted this above, but he dealt with some physical woes.
Second, his HR/F ratio, over 10 percent in 2012-13 and nine percent for his career, fell all the way down to 2.9 percent. He produced a mark that was a third of his career norm. That's crazy low and simply not a repeatable number in 2015. The mark simply has to rebound.
Three, and I'm just going to say it. Rios was unlucky as all get out in 2014. You can't have a BABIP of .336, a line drive rate of 23.5 percent and struggle to produce like he did. Even his .280 batting average is more valuable today than a .290 mark seven years ago. You also don't mirror you career levels in OBP, K-rate, BB-rate, ground ball rate, fly ball rate and swinging rates and be that unproductive. It doesn't happen. The totality of the data suggests that the skills dip that Rios suffered in 2014... well it didn't exist.
Alex Rios didn't produce last season. People have moved on from the soon to be 34 year old. You shouldn't. The totality of his 2014 effort suggests that he deserved a better fate than his fantasy numbers suggest. Given those two sets of data points - he wasn't as bad as it seems and everyone thinks he was awful - there would seem to be a nice buy-low opportunity with a veteran who will have no hype heading into draft day.
10 team lg: I get it, you don't want to trust him here. Given the perception that most will hold with Rios it's likely you will be able to draft him as your 5th outfielder or potentially in the reserve rounds. He's worth that investment.
12 team lg: The Royals ran a lot last year, and Rios should keep that trend up this season. Given the likelihood of a bounce back in his overall game as well, he's a strong late round option to employ.
15 team lg: I'm all about adding Rios here. Some will take a shot on Byron Buxton types. Give me Alex Rios.
AL-only: With health it's quite conceivable that Rios will at least be able to produce a season like 2005. With that as the floor of expectations, at least for me, I'm buying Rios in this format without hesitation.