Can Alex Rios Turn It Around?

May 25, 2011


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When Alex Rios hit .163 in April the panic button looked tempting. Now we’re approaching Memorial Day and his average stands at .210. What’s worse, the player that hit 21 home runs with 34 stolen bases has just four of each this year.
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Not only is panic setting in, its cousin anger is tagging along. Rios was supposed to be one of the top outfield choices this year and he’s on pace for a .210- 81-13-42-13 campaign. Yikes. Before you begin to craft your hate mail, I urge you to settle down.
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Rios was terrible that first month. Brutal actually. That kind of hole takes time to dig out of. He’s not setting the world ablaze, but he is hitting .269 in May. That’s more than a 100 point improvement. Three of his home runs have come this month as well, helping his OPS improve by .261.
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Alex struggled mightily in 2009, which helped him land in Chicago in the first place. He hit .247 that year with 63 runs, 17 HRs, 71 RBI, and 24 SBs. His BABIP had always been .309 or better, but it dipped to .273 that year. Maybe he just struggled with the adjustment. Maybe getting put on waivers bruised his ego. Maybe he just went into a shell after his altercation with a fan was caught on videotape.
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Whatever the reason, Rios bounced back last year. His BABIP (.306) came along for the ride.
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It’s way down this year. I’m talking way, way down for a guy with his speed. It is .219 to be exact. He’s usually around 100 points higher. Will he bounce back to .300? Unlikely. Not after 50 games are in the books. He could, however, have a .300 BABIP from here on out. July (.297 average, .799 OPS) has historically been his second best month behind May (.297 average, .850 OPS). Of course August and September are his two worst months so the struggles could continue, but maybe he got them out of the way early this year.
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Whatever the case, Rios is trending in the right direction and the odds of improved luck are in his favor. It’s a good time to try to buy low on him. If you already have him, it’s a good time to hold (unless you get a Godfather type offer that you can’t refuse). That way you get to reap the benefits of the rebound rather than your competition.
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