“His name is Rios, and he dances on the sand! And in an even year he really the man! Oh Rios, Rios, could you not suck and play like we all have planned?”
I know, I know, Alex Rios had a great 2012. Like his compatriot, Adam Dunn, Rios has to live down a historically bad 2011. When thinking of the pair of them, it is very hard not to think of the phrase, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Like Dunn, the boo birds will be out in full force for Rios if it gets off to a slow start in 2013. Sorry, but memories are long in baseball.
Enough of the bad, 2012 was a great year for Rios. He was the team leader in WAR (4.2), and it is safe to say that without his efforts, the Sox would not have been in contention nearly as long as they were last season. He batted .304/.334/.516 with 25 home runs, 23 stolen bases (only caught 6 times) and finished 15th in MVP voting. I know that doesn’t mean that he is the fifteenth best player in the league, but it is recognition that he had a great year.
I wish I had access to souvenir data, because for as good as Rios was last year, I can’t say that Alex Rios jerseys and t-shirts are a very popular item. I truly wonder why he isn’t a more popular with White Sox. I can only guess it has to do, in part anyway, with how he was acquired. It had the feel of a mistake that Kenny Williams didn’t really mean to get Rios from waivers, but got played by other GMs in the league. I can’t say that is the most logical of reasons to dislike a guy. His lackluster 2009 and abysmal 2011 didn’t help, but other players (I’m looking at you Gordon Beckham) seem to get a lot of love from the fans, or at least forgiveness. Part of it may be that he isn’t the flashiest of players, but a lot Sox players aren’t what one would call flashy. But it is still weird. He isn’t whiny, seems to give it his best and can’t say I’ve heard a bad word about the guy. I know souvenir data isn’t the best or only indicator of fan love, but it does give us some ideas. At the very least it seems to beg a question or two.
As far as 2013, the projections on Rios are pretty solid, with a bit of a regression to his norms, .273/.318/.443 with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. I think we’ll all save a prayer for those numbers come about.