White Sox player wrap-ups - Alex Rios

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Yes Alex, this concerns you.

Alex Rios wore a lot of titles for the White Sox this season.  He was their only five-tool player, the most impressive athlete, the best waiver acquisition, the first decent centerfielder the team's had since Aaron Rowand's not-fully realized potential, and the owner of the most disappointing 2nd half.

But more than anything else, Alex Rios became the new White Sox player that my sister would greet by yelling "Bbooooyyffrrrriiiieennnddd!" from the left-field bleachers...finalizing her breakup with Carlos Quentin.

Why did she ditch Carlos?

"Because that fat ******* piece of ******************* had his ************ chance and blew it!"

Well then, long reign Alex.
  Stat line: .284 BA, .334 OBP, .457 SLG, .791 OPS, 21 HR, 88 RBI, 34 SB (70.8 %), 38 BB, 93 SO, .345 wOBA, 4.0 UZR, 3.7 WAR

What did we expect?: Alex entered the season as the entrenched starter in center, but that could have been just as much about the Sox adherence to the "If he's making $10 million, he had damn well better start" corollary as anything else.  After being good, but probably overrated for years in Toronto, Alex had one of those "maybe he murdered a guy and buried him under the stadium, and that's why he can't focus" seasons in 2009, which prompted the Blue Jays to do something as rash as waive a guy they recently committed 7 years, $69.835 million to.  Eternally looking to string a MLB-quality roster together through a series of random occurences, Williams snatched Alex up on the notion that his pedigree was enough to make a complete career-ending breakdown unlikely.  Even though Alex stayed in the tank for the duration of '09, I was supportive.

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Perhaps something I should have anticipated: my sister finding Alex completely irresistible.

"Rios is in camp with one
of those Matt
Thornton-the-white-sox-coaches-are-so-awesome-they-fixed-his-swing,-his-mental-approach-and-his-lovelife-immediately
stories. A .970 Spring Training OPS would seem to support such stories.
Also, at 29, he is still in his physical prime, making a complete
dissolution of his skills unlikely. Rios' two best years were in the
20-25 HR, 80-85 RBI range with a .850 OPS, suggesting that he was never
really going to be worth his contract, but more likely what we were
hoping Brian Anderson would be."

If I were to learn that the reason Kenny doesn't trust the process of developing prospects is because he still has Brian Anderson-related night terrors, I'd be pretty darn sympathetic.

The result: A zoomed out glance of Rios' 2010 elicits a pretty simple reaction: "Hmm, that's not a half-bad Alex Rios season".  Good defense (extremely athletic with a good arm, but at the center of some of the season's worst gaffes), above average offense (113 weighted runs-created plus....I can't explain it, you know what, just go here), and a very good base-stealing threat, but perhaps an overused one (34 for 48).

But the way Rios' offensive production is distributed is either very worrying, or supremely encouraging, almost entirely based on what type of person you are.  See, Alex had a supremely transcendent month of May, and an otherwise pedestrian season.

May: .344 BA, .406 OBP, .700 SLG, 1.106 OPS, 8 HR, 8 2B, 18 RBI, 9 BB, 9 SO
Rest of season: .275, .320 OBP, .411 SLG, .731 OPS, 13 HR, 21 2B, 70 RBI, 29 BB, 84 SO

The optimistic stance is that Alex is capable of super-supreme levels of production when he's on, good enough to prompt a delirious blogger or two to proclaim that he's having the best season of any White Sox in past 6 seasons or so.  The pessimistic stance is that barring a solar flare of a month, we have a very run-of-the-mill starting quality contributor, a Mark Kotsay-in-his-prime type player.


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"**** these birds, I'm focused." - Alex Rios

Consider me optimistic.  Given the choice of how to distribute the production of a slightly above-average offensive season, I would choose to have one month where Rios carried the entire franchise (which he did, albeit not during a good stretch) and was average the rest of the way, than 6 uninterrupted months of Mark Kotsay-in-his-prime.

Additionally, while Rios didn't exceed .800 OPS in any other month, September is the only month where he can be said to have struggled (and with some of the stretches that Beckham and Pierzynski made us endure, .645 OPS seems a little mild).  With the good-but-not-great defense, and very-good-but-not-great basestealing he provides, there was pretty much no point in the season where Alex wasn't a pretty good option in CF.

Love him of leave him?: Well, he's not cheap ($51 million for the next 4 seasons), not young (30 by Opening Day 2011), and probably not an All-Star, so Alex certainly can't be referred to as being untouchable.  But at 3.7 WAR, he's not a horrible value, and with the way the centerfield position has been in a flux for the organization for the past few years, having a proven veteran locked down doesn't seem like a bad thing. 

Potential youthful replacements Jared Mitchell (knee injury) and Jordan Danks (strikeout addiction) both endured rough seasons that put their projected year of arrival a ways off.  So while Alex may not be loved forever-eva-eva like it seemed he might be earlier this season, he certainly should renew the lease of his apartment.

Follow White Sox Observer on Twitter @ JFegan_WSO_ODTL and on Facebook.

Sox Machine is currently letting its readers pitch their own White Sox offseason plans.  A concept that is duly awesome as its producing interesting content and giving him time off.

From what I can tell, J.J. at White Sox Examiner also runs an independent, student-run, sports media website focusing on University of Missouri athletics.  So I would say that this weekend was probably busy for him.

 

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