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Friday, August 9, 2013
Rios brings some power, speed, a few flaws

By Mark Simon


The Texas Rangers were able to find someone to fill in for suspended slugger Nelson Cruz, making a trade with the Chicago White Sox on Friday for outfielder Alex Rios.

How does Rios fit in with his new team? Let's take a look at the numbers.

The basics
Rios gives the Rangers a combination of modest power and speed.

Only two other players have as many homers (12) and as many stolen bases (26) as Rios does this season-- Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura

Rios is not quite the player that Cruz was.

His 0.9 Wins Above Replacement are less than Cruz’s 2.1 in 2013. However, Rios was worth 4.6 Wins Above Replacement last season, 15th-best among major-league outfielders.

A closer look
Rios enters with a nine-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .324, but he only has one extra-base hit during this stretch.

Rios has a .263/.304/.330 batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage slashline in his last 49 games, with one home run in 194 at-bats. He’s compensated by running, with 17 steals in 19 attempts.

Rios is hitting the ball on the ground much more in this stretch (48 percent of the balls he’s hit, compared to 42 percent previously).

His fly balls have also lacked any sort of oomph. Our video-tracking service charted 36 percent of the balls he hit in the air through June 9 to be “hard-hit.”

But only 22 percent of them have been so since then. Our distance estimators note the average depth on his balls hit in the air has plummeted from 280 feet to 254 feet.

For those who think that Rios might find his power stroke in Rangers Ballpark, keep this in mind: In 161 at-bats there, he has only one home run.

His biggest strength
Rios thrives against hard stuff. His .327 batting average against fastballs, sinkers and cutters ranks in the top 15 percent of major league hitters. He misses on only eight percent of his swings against those pitches, which rates 13th-best among the 153 players currently qualified for the batting title.

Rios has no fear of the game’s hardest throwers. His 16 hits against pitches thrown 95 mph or faster is only two shy of the major league lead, shared by Allen Craig and Rios’ new teammate, Adrian Beltre.

On the decline: His Defense
Rios has rated positively in right field by Defensive Runs Saved every season from 2004 to 2012, his tallies ranging from four to 18 Defensive Runs Saved during that span.

But this season has been considerably different. His -6 Defensive Runs Saved rates seventh-worst among the 35 players with the most innings in right field this season.

Rangers fans won’t want to hear this but Rios’ biggest issue is one he shares with Cruz.

His rating at catching balls hit to the deepest parts of the ballpark is by far the worst of his career.