Can Alex Rios Be The Next 30-30 Player?

Everyone is convinced that Alex Rios is an impact fantasy player. The only question is why. In 2007, Rios scored 114 runs and hit 24 homers. Last year, much of his value came because he swiped a career-high 32 bases, or as many bags as he stole in 2006 and 2007 combined. Can Rios combine his home run output of 2007 and his stolen base totals of 2008 to be a top-10 fantasy guy?

In the first half of last season, Rios completely lost his power stroke. He hit just four home runs in 362 at-bats. But he compensated by swiping 23 bases. In the second half Rios’ power came back. He hit 11 home runs in 292 at-bats although he stole just nine bags after the break.

Rios hit more groundballs than flyballs last year. Also, his HR/FB rate fell to 7.4 percent. But as you can see by the GB/FB/LD chart, Rios hit many more fly balls (the blue line in the chart) in the second half, after his FB% fell beneath his LD% midway through the season.

What does it mean for 2009? Well, it is likely that his poor home run output in the first half was a random fluke. But we could easily conclude the same thing about his stolen base numbers, too. Expect more home runs than the 15 he hit in 2008. But do not expect a repeat of his stolen base numbers. Rios never stole 30 or more bases anywhere in his professional career in this country. A 20-20 season is reasonable. A 30-30 campaign is not.

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10 Responses to “Can Alex Rios Be The Next 30-30 Player?”

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  1. Matt says:

    This is a very old argument for Rios, one that has been talked about for years so this is nothing earth shattering to report. Will the power ever come/stay?

    But, to dismiss his SB totals of 08 is a bit short-sighted. The Jays finally let there players steal as they see fit as opposed to trying to pidgeon-hole there players into the ‘money-ball’ mold, even when not fitting.

    Look at all the Jays in 2008, most of them (of base stealers) would probably show an increase in there SB totals from 06/07 to 2008.

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  2. The argument FOR him stealing 30 again is that he’s a pretty solid basestealer. He was successful 80% of the time in 2008 and we know he has speed. So I think he’s absolutely capable of a repeat, but of course steals always tend to fluctuate based on opportunity, managerial tendencies, and just the whims of the player.

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  3. Brian Joura says:

    In 2007 here were the top Jays base stealers:

    Rios – 17
    Wells – 10
    McDonald – 7
    Hill – 4
    R. Johnson – 4

    In 2008 it was:

    Rios – 32
    Joe Inglett – 9
    Marco Scutaro – 7
    Scott Rolen – 5

    Wells went from 10 to 4, McDonald went from 7 to 3, Hill stayed at 4 and Johnson wasn’t on the team. As a team, the Blue Jays increased their steals by 23 bags from ’07 to ’08 and 15 of those were by Rios. Is the eight-steal increase by the rest of the team significant or an indication of a change in philosophy? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t want to wager any money on that.

    Here are the team’s steals by months:

    April – 22
    May – 16
    June – 10
    July – 20
    August – 8
    September – 4

    Perhaps there was talk of changing philosophy under Gibbons but by the time Gaston was firmly in control steals were lower than ever.

    His first four years in Toronto, Rios was amazingly consistent in stolen bases, getting between 14-17 each year. Then he basically doubles that as a 27-year old, after not even approaching that mark in the minors (career high 22 bases as a 20-year old in 2001). I think the bulk of evidence is that he’s not going to steal 30 bases next year.

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  4. Matt says:

    Of the players you cited from 07, only Rios and Wells could be considered ‘base-stealers’, and Wells is a walking injury machine and one of the most overpaid players in the league IMO to boot. McDonald is a defensive shortstop with little athleticism, Reed Johnson has never been a SB guy (he had 5 with the Cubs in the NL), Aaron Hill will never be confused with Roberto Alomar and the entire team really in 07 was relatively slow. Rios was our only consistent swiper.

    Taking away AUG and SEP, and those are same pretty BIG increases in steal attempts when compared to 2006 and 2007, and they would’ve seen a 50 SB increase season over season (possibly) with the same level of output in the 1st half of the season, no small increase.

    30 steals (for Rios) could be a stretch, but in the 20-30 range is not out of his skill set, but as you mentioned, with Gaston at the helm, the breaks seemed to be put on so to speak – which wouldn’t help.

    Also to note, whenever Wells goes down with an injury, more often than not it is Rios that takes his place in CF, this might not seem like a big factor, but that can wear down your legs over the course of a season (especially on the carpet at Rogers Centre).

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  5. Brian Joura says:

    Rios played 62 games in CF in 2008 and had 13 SB
    He played 93 games in RF and had 19 SB

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  6. Matt says:

    Most of his steals are 1st half as well… 23 – 9… He played a lot of CF in the 1st half, then a lot of RF in the final two months when Wells was back. He probably got worn down.

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  7. Dave C. says:

    What an incredibly irrelevant article.

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  8. Brian Joura says:

    Here are the games started in CF by month for Rios:

    April – 1
    May – 21
    June – 6
    July – 14
    August – 11
    September – 6

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  9. Jim says:

    I have the same questions about a few other guys…mainly Hunter Pence, Lastings Milledge and Chris Young. People pegged Pence to be a 30-30 candidate last year yet he didn’t even reach 15 stolen bases. Do you think this is where he’ll stay or will he steal more? Chris Young’s SB numbers also took a huge hit. What’s closer to his norm….14 or 29? Same with power. Is he a 30+ homerun hitter or a 20+ homerun hitter? MIlledge stole more bases than ever. Can he steal 30 or more next year? How much power does he have in him? This might be a lot to talk about right here, but I figured there’s no harm in asking. I’ve done a lot of research but I’ve heard a lot of differing opinions so it’s hard to tell who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t.

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  10. Derek says:

    Alex Rios’ power outage in the first half of 2008 = Gary Denbo. His hitting philosophy ruined a couple of Jays’ hitters, and when Gene Tenace took over Rios began to hit for power again.

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