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Key Stats: Alex Rios and Drew Stubbs were the only players in baseball that hit at least 20 home runs and stole 30 bases last season. It was the first time that Rios accomplished both of those feats in the same season and the second time he hit more than 20 home runs or stole more than 30 bases in any season.

Skeptics Say: Rios is ranked 58th, but he’s a tough guy to like. His pace for a 162 game season from June 1st on last season was just 16 home runs, 29 steals, a .272 average, and .717 OPS so he definitely slowed down a little as the season grew longer. The numbers get even worse if you don’t include June, and his second half struggles are not anything new. For his career, Rios has an OPS that is 67 points lower in the second half. His entire season in 2009 was a disappointment, but knowing what he did in last year’s second half perhaps it’s just a realistic idea of who he is. It wouldn’t surprise me if he finished ranked outside the top 150, but nor would it surprise me if he was ranked in the top 50.

After being caught stealing 14 times last season and hitting just 29 doubles (he’s had two seasons with 40+), it’s asking too much of him to hit 20+ and steal 30+ again this year.

Peer Comparison: Going by last year’s numbers and the lineups around Rios and Hunter Pence, Rios is the slightly better choice. Don’t go by last year’s numbers and the lineups though. There are several reasons to like Pence more than Rios:

  1. He is two years younger.
  2. Rios is coming off of a season in which he had a career high HR:FB rate. Pence has been between 14.9% and 16% his whole career, and last year he fell between that range.
  3. Pence hit better in the second half.
  4. Pence’s BABIP is more likely to be repeated. Rios had a fairly big leap in BABIP last year after just a 0.5% gain in his line drive rate. Pence’s BABIP was virtually unchanged as his line drive rate remained consistent.
  5. Pence had a better 2009.

Don’t get me wrong – the two players are very close. They both set career highs in steals last season, have terrible walk rates, and they both finished with 29 doubles. Given how important every detail is in a close race though, the edge goes to Pence and you can’t call them the same player.

Lineup Outlook: In 113 games, Rios hit third in the order for the White Sox. This is the ideal spot for any hitter in terms of being a force in both runs scored and RBI. Rios closed the season as the number three hitter in the order last year, and based on their offseason he should continue to hit there. We have to assume Paul Konerko can’t be penciled in as the number three guy because Ozzie Guillen would have used him there last year. Adam Dunn has been used only sparingly as a number three hitter in his career, and has hit cleanup more than any other part of the lineup in the last two seasons. Dunn would serve as a nice break between the right-handed hitting Rios and the right-handed hitting Paul Konerko. If that is the case with the White Sox this season, Rios should get a lot of pitches to hit.

What They’re Saying: Yahoo: #18 Outfielder & #66 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #16 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #52 Overall; John Halpin of Fox Sports: #24 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #67 Overall; RotoChamp: #64 Overall

Projection: These numbers can fluctuate, but just know when push comes to shove I’m not drafting Rios.
87 R 19 HR 86 RBI 25 SB .279 AVG .778 OPS

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