Taking a look back at 2010 and trying to project what will happen in 2011 is what we do at Fanball. To that end, Ted Carlson has been sending out assignments for us to rank our top options at each position for the 2011 season. Today, I’ll defend my rankings for the Top-20 Outfielders for 2011, focusing on two players that I was called out on in the article (I jest of course because Ted and I, more than anyone else on staff, seem to agree on a whole lot of this baseball stuff).
Rios was ranked 5th, 8th twice, and 10th by the other four voters whereas I had him at 15th. Why was I lower on him than everyone else? My thoughts.
(1) I’m a big believer in consistency, and Rios has never been associated with that term in his life. In 2009 he hit .199 over his last 41 games to finish the year on an extreme down note. He wasn’t anywhere near that bad in 2010 but he did bat a puny .258 in the second half. In fact, he always seems to tire in the second half as his batting average dips .021 points after the All-Star break.
(2) His power isn’t anywhere near elite. Only twice has Rios hit 20-homers – he hit 21 in 2010 and 24 in 2007. With his build, and swing, more has always been expected in this category. However, Rios is about league average in his fly ball rate (career: 37.5 percent) and his HR/F mark (career: 8.9 percent), so he’ll likely be nothing more than a 20 homer threat, not that there is anything wrong with residing at that level. Speaking of a lack of consistency, he hit 11 homers in his first 47 games only to go deep a mere 10 more times in his last 100 games in 2010.
(3) He’s never been more than a solid producer of runs and RBI. Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t many guys out there who you can legitimately book for 80 and 80, but it should be pointed out that Rios has been under 80-RBI twice in the past three years, and he has averaged 81 runs scored the past three years.
(4) While he doesn’t strikeout too frequently (18.2 percent), he also doesn’t walk much (6.5 percent). As a result his career BB/K mark is 0.39, well below the big league average of about 0.50.
(5) Rios just doesn’t hit that many balls on a line. For the past two years he has failed to post a LD-rate of even 17 percent (the big league average is 19-20 percent). His career mark is also an ordinary 19.3 percent. Rios also owns a 1.15 GB/FB ratio, which again, is within hailing distance of the big league average.
(6) And finally, there is this. Here are his 3-year averages compared to Bobby Abreu
I’m not saying I’d take the aging Abreu over Rios straight up, I wouldn’t, I’m just pointing out that while people reach on Rios in 2011 I’ll just wait five rounds and grab Bobby Abreu thank you.
Ted was totally right when he wrote “It was likely with great reluctance that Ray ranked him [20th].” Just how right was Ted with that line of thought? I won’t say he was as accurate as Copernicus who correctly postulated that the Sun, and not the Earth, was at the center of the universe, but he was pretty darn close. In fact, can I have a re-vote? There is very little chance that I will ever rank Bautista this high again, chalk it up to World Series insanity (my Giants, as you know, were playing in it) so enjoy it while it lasts Jays’ fans. I won’t rehash my thoughts on why Bautista will be a bust in 2010 here, I’ll instead just point you to my Breaking Down: Jose Bautista piece which elucidates my position very concisely including this rather memorable line. “Will Bautista be as productive in 2011 as he was in 2010? If he is, I’ll pose for Playgirl.”
I should have read my own article before I submitted my vote.
By Ray Flowers