July 16, 2012
Painting the Black
The Rewritable Alex Rios
Every year, Baseball Prospectus releases a PECOTA projection for Alex Rios, and every year Rios makes us wonder why we bother by missing the mark on the forecast one way or the other. Rios’ volatility is as dizzying as it is bewildering.
The trend dates back to 2008. Rios had made back-to-back All-Star Game appearances, and the Jays had no reason to believe those would be the last. Toronto wanted to secure Rios and his intriguing blend of power and speed, and so they nailed down a contract extension— the damage: seven years and more than $69 million. Rios played well enough through the season’s end to bring his three-year line to .296/.347/.489. Over the time, his seasonal averages included 19 home runs, 41 doubles, and 21 stolen bases.
Rios’ performances began vacillating in 2009. Although Rios still had a .265 True Average (TAv), the Jays placed him on revocable waivers; hoping against logic that a team would claim Rios and his potential liability of a contract. The White Sox answered the call and the Jays allowed them to imbibe the deal. Even now, almost three full years later, Rios has two more seasons and $25 million guaranteed remaining. A somber realization when his numbers since 2009 are examined (.253/.299/.401 and averages of 17 home runs, 27 doubles, and 23 stolen bases).
There is good news for the White Sox, however. Rios is in the midst of another weird season. This time, he is putting together a banner year. His .312 TAv would be the best of his career, and ranks sixth amongst right fielders. Meanwhile, Rios’ 39 extra-base hits are more than he had all of last season, in 200 fewer plate appearances.
Rios’ Scattershot Performances and Year-to-Year Delta, 2008-12