Buy Low: Alex Rios
Saturday May 28th, 2011
Buy Low takes a look at fantasy players who are slumping or generally aren't instilling much confidence in their owners. These players can be targeted via trade or on the waiver wire and, upon a return to form, can help you win your fantasy leagues. Today's Buy Low focuses on Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios.
Alex Rios hasn't exactly sparkled since joining the White Sox, as he's hit .253/.302/.401 with 28 home runs over the span of just under 1,000 plate appearances. Luckily for the Pale Hose, though largely unhelpful to fantasy players, Rios still maintains value defensively when his stick doesn't click. Still, there is ample cause for optimism regarding Rios' value as a fantasy hitter.
Last season, which is to-date Rios' only full season on the south side, Alex hit .284/.334/.457 with 21 home runs, 88 runs batted in, and stole 34 bases. In terms of real-life value, Rios' strikeouts to walks ratio has never been outstanding, and he is prone to extended bouts of ineffectiveness (all of 2009, thus far in 2011). However, the stats posted by Rios in 2010 likely made him among the 40th-50th best fantasy hitter, and there's plenty of reason to believe that his .570 OPS is more of a mirage than indicative of his skill-set.
The first stat to consider is his .208 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). With a league average typically around .300, and with Rios' career mark at .311, it's obvious that Rios has been on the short end of more than a handful of well-struck balls. Further supporting this assertion is that Rios has improved his groundball rate (always helpful) and is stroking line drives nearly three percent of the time (supremely useful) more than he has as a member of the White Sox.
With this in mind, fantasy owners have to wonder what else Rios is doing to slump this fiercely. It's not his strikeout rate or his walk rate, though, as he's bumped his walk rate by half a percent over his career rate, and he's slashed his whiffs by just under six percent, which is absolutely stunning. Hence, if it isn't obvious, it's absolutely baffling that Rios has continued to struggle like this. The only stat working against Rios' favor is that he's popping up about five percent more of the time, and that he's about two percent below his career rate in terms of home runs per fly ball. Neither of those indicators should be strong enough to outweigh his line drive rate or his BABIP, so it's pretty safe to say that Rios has potential to be an incredible sleeper going forward.
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