Alex Rios Folds Under Pressure

You always hear about how happy, excited, and relieved a player is to finally join a contender. These stories write themselves following an in-season trade. Well, Alex Rios hasn’t had much fun in Chicago. In 97 plate appearances he’s hitting .140/.156/.215 for the White Sox which translates into a .165 wOBA – or -13.2 wRAA. His simple batting figures aren’t the only out of place numbers since changing addresses:

ISO
2009 Jays: .163
2009 White Sox: .075

BABIP
Jays: .294
Sox: .174

BB%
Jays: 6.6%
Sox: 2.1%

K%
Jays: 17.9%
Sox: 24.7%

Contact%
Jays: 82.7%
Sox: 73.8%

It is only 97 plate appearances, meaning Rios is about three trips away from some Chicago-based columnist writing a piece proclaiming Rios as a player unable to adapt to the large market atmosphere.

Honestly it’s pretty hard to get worked about any of the numbers involved. None of them are good, none are encouraging, but remember John Smoltz and all the talk about 40 innings worth of work? Well Joe Mauer endured a 79 plate appearance streak that lasted from mid-August through early September in which he had an OPS of .804. In late April, Derek Jeter began a 84 plate appearance streak with a .643 OPS. Mark Teixeira’s first 95 plate appearances resulted in an .189/.358/.351 line.

I cannot definitively state that every single batter in the majors goes through streaks of 75-100 plate appearances where they experience what many label as slumps. However those were the first three players I checked and those are three very good batters whom each experienced a similar phenomenon just this season.

Poor timing? Absolutely. A sign of pressure getting to Rios? Probably not.




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27 Responses to “Alex Rios Folds Under Pressure”

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  1. Torgen says:

    Why did anyone think playing in a pennant race would make Rios not suck? He sucked for a Jays team that was leading the AL East for 6 weeks.

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  2. John C. says:

    Hey, remember that weekend Albert Pujols went 3 for 12?

    What do three of the decade’s better hitters have to do with an average José slugging .215 for a month?

    And .804? You couldn’t have used the 88 PA stretch where he posted a .678 OPS to better illustrate whatever ill-conceived point you were trying to make?

    P.S. I’m just joshing you. Keep up the mediocre work!

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  3. Ed Nelson says:

    That was a little harsh but I agree with John C. To say this is an isolated slump is to ignore Rios’ awful April (OPS .670) and awful June (only 8 XBHs). That’s 3 bad months interspersed throughout the year with about 350 ABs worth of sub .700 OPS ball. Not a good year and nothing encouraging to say the least. Right now his excellent May is looking like the outlier.

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  4. The power decline is definitely not a sample size issue. its a trend

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  5. Rich says:

    Maybe there are some personal issues that have affected his concentration over the last year?

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  6. joe says:

    I tell you again and again, batting stance. He has gone from a slight crouch in earlier years, to a severe lean in 2009, and now he looks like he is sitting on an invisible chair. No one can hit like that, but why he feels the need to change his stance every couple of games is beyond me.

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  7. aweb says:

    “where they experience what many label as slumps.”

    Did you have a better name for them? “Times during the year when random chance and unknown physical/mental differences that we can’t quantify result in poor outcomes” is a little long. Seriously, call it a slump. No one will take away your baseball analyst card or anything. It’s OK. Some terms from the past are fine to use.

    An OPS of .371 over 97 PA is a level of magnitude worse than any of the examples you give. He might turn it around tomorrow, or he could have entered the Andruw Jones zone where he completely loses it for a year or more.

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    • Jack says:

      An OPS of .371 over 97 PA is a level of magnitude worse than any of the examples you give.

      This is key. This is why I think this is a poorly written article.

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      • WY says:

        I agree with Jack.

        “Honestly it’s pretty hard to get worked about any of the numbers involved. […] Well Joe Mauer endured a 79 plate appearance streak that lasted from mid-August through early September in which he had an OPS of .804. In late April, Derek Jeter began a 84 plate appearance streak with a .643 OPS. Mark Teixeira’s first 95 plate appearances resulted in an .189/.358/.351 line.”

        These OPS figures (.804, .643, and .709) are still a far cry from what Rios has been doing. When Mauer “slumps,” he might hover around .800 for a while. Rios’ slump is akin to a bad few weeks by, like, Nick Punto or Adam Everett standards.

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  8. Jason says:

    “You buckle, like a belt.”

    -Randal Graves

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  9. Matt B. says:

    Thankfully he can field.

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    • wobatus says:

      When are we getting another article where his -1.8 UZR makes up for his horrible hitting “trend” and more than worth his contract. Ozzie hasn’t even crushed his will yet.

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  10. ya know, i was pretty excited when we picked up this dick. i’m still waiting for him to show up.

    i’m just glad i don’t have to witness scott podsednik play center field that much anymore. that guy is fucking brutal out there.

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  11. Llewdor says:

    Rios has also always been streaky as hell.

    He figures out how to pull the ball and hits for power, and then pitchers pitch him away. So then he gets a more and more inside-out swing that has no power (he once did this for an entire season). And then he starts over.

    I predict Rios will have a good May 2010.

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  12. Brett says:

    I think he just needs to see Vernon Wells to his right. You guys want him?

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  13. AJS says:

    Everyone still think the White Sox got such a good deal and that Rios’ contract is so good compared to market value? cf. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/white-sox-stea-rios

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    • WY says:

      I was thinking the exact same thing, AJS. How many people are still mocking the Jays for getting rid of this contract and getting “nothing” in return (as if $60 million worth of newly found financial flexibility amounted to “nothing”)?

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    • Pete says:

      Those things still remain true. Based on what he’s done in his career he’s a serviceable player who lives up to his contract.

      That doesn’t mean he’s doing them NOW…that’s a separate issue…but the logic supporting the trade is still there, assuming he’s not irrevocably hurt or something.

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      • wobatus says:

        I don’t think all those glowing “what a great waiver steal” were actually watching Rios play. They just looked at career stats and drooled “regression to mean.”

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