I don’t like Alex Rios. I’m not sure if it’s because he used to go by the name Alexis. Or maybe I owned him in 2009 when he hit .247. Or maybe I bought into some hype telling me he would hit 30 HR in a given season and he stuck me with 17 instead.
Regardless. I might be coming around on Mr. Rios. Here’s why…
You’ve Got Mail
Remember when Meg Ryan was famous? Anyways, I recently got an e-mail from a reader wondering if he should keep Jose Bautista, Justin Upton, or Alex Rios.
When I see a question like this, my first reaction is to eliminate the low hanging fruit. So I wiped Rios out of the equation and started to think about Bautista and Upton.
Then I opened up my early 2014 projections:
My Ranking Formulas Have To Be Wrong
My immediate reaction was that my ranking formulas had to be wrong. Rios couldn’t be so significantly better than Upton and Bautista. Or could he?
After all, Rios was the 9th ranked hitter on ESPN’s 2013 Player Rater (heck, he was 6th in 2012!). Upton was 48th. And Bautista was 59th. All of those rankings look incredibly in line with my preseason rankings. Maybe they are right.
If The Ranking Is Right, Then My Projections Have To Be Wrong
I’ve only done one pass through my projections as of the time of this post in early January 2014 (learn to make your own projections here). Maybe I need to take a closer look at Rios and downgrade some of those stats. Maybe I’m too favorable. My projections are exclusively based on a player’s last three seasons. So let’s take a look:
So my .280, 78R, 18 HR, 81 RBI doesn’t look unreasonable. If anything, the counting numbers of R and RBI might be low when you consider he played most of his games last season for the AL’s worst team offense (CHW) to now having a full season in an above average offense from last year that is arguably even better (TEX).
I started on this endeavor thinking I needed to bump down his projections (more on this later… this is a crappy way of thinking), and now I’m convinced he’ll probably score more R and have more RBI? Heading in the wrong direction here.
It All Comes Down To Stolen Bases
Rios gets the bulk of his value from stolen bases. So even if his R and RBI increase a touch, it’s not going to significantly affect things.
The key question to answer is can we really expect the 33 projected steals from a soon to be 33-year old aging outfielder?
I don’t want the point of this article to be exactly how I projected Rios’ SB totals, so I’m not going to go into great detail. But when you consider the following facts, 33 is not unreasonable:
- TEX led MLB in stolen base attempts (195 TEX, 147 CHW)
- TEX was second in stolen bases (149 TEX, 105 CHW)
- TEX was seventh in SB% (76% TEX, 71% CHW)
- Rios had 17 SBA in 47 games for TEX last season (roughly on pace for 51 SBA for a full season)
- Rios has a SB% of 80% the last three seasons, a rate which would give him about 40 SB in 51 SBA
So even if he slows his pace and begins to get caught more, there is cushion in that projection of 33.
For Argument’s Sake, What If We Project 20 SB
If the rest of his stat line remains the same and the projection of 33 SB falls to 20, his ranking adjusts from the 11th best hitter to 36! He’s still ahead of Upton!
It’s Early, But Where Is Rios Being Drafted?
Rios is currently going 34th overall, with Bautista going 40th, and Upton going 43rd. I obviously have to familiarize myself more with this ADP information. I should not have dismissed Rios out of hand the way I did.
Let’s Learn From This
This whole exercise demonstrates two important lessons.
First, this is a perfect demonstration on how to find value by making your own rankings and projections. Remember, Rios came out as the 11th best hitter in my projections! He’s being drafted 34th overall!
This is not to say that you have to agree with my assessments of Rios. But if you go to a top 200 list at popular fantasy websites, you will probably see Rios ranked in the 30s or 40s. If you run your own projections and realize he comes out at 11, you have FANTASY GOLD on your hands. You can take a player in the 3rd or 4th round that you think will return 1st round value! I hate to repeat myself, but this is exactly why you need to be get your hands dirty and make your own rankings and projections.
Second, it was an awful mistake for me to look at my ranking and want to search for ways to downgrade Rios. I spent hours of time developing my own projections using proven methods and then running objective mathematical formulas to calculate each player’s value from those projections. The ranking is what it is. The projected stats are what they are. And they are calculating a very strong ranking.
It’s not wrong to double-check and possibly adjust your projections. But that’s not really what I tried to do. I don’t like Rios. I know this. I was purposefully considering a decrease in his projected stats just so he would fall in the rankings to where I thought he “should be”. That’s a mistake.
Just because he comes out ranked 11th doesn’t mean I need to draft him 11th. That’s the value of good ADP information and planning your draft out ahead of time (knowing you might be able to wait until the 3rd round).
Now That I’ve Completely Jinxed Rios’ Season…
Thanks for reading. Be smart.