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.