Bottom of the sixth inning, two on, one out, in a 1-0 game. Rick Porcello – who has an opponent’s batting average allowed over .300 – is three-hitting the Chicago White Sox. White Sox fans – including myself – are melting down on Twitter with the team’s lack of execution with runners in scoring position. Alex Rios steps to the plate – poof. White Sox lead 3-1. Game. Blouses.
I always had a special place in my heart for Alex Rios. After all, he became a member of the Chicago White Sox in embarassing fashion, essentially getting cut from the Toronto Blue Jays after they put him on waivers in 2009. Rios – like he did with Toronto – struggled with the White Sox in 2009, with the fans souring on him with every weak at-bat he had.
This is why I started to support Alex Rios, because somebody had to. Rios did have a solid season in 2010 for Chicago, putting up a 3.7 fWAR and a slash-line of .284/.334/.457/.791. In 2011, however, Rios returned to some of his bad habits that hurt him in ’09. His -0.7 fWAR last season was just one of the major black holes the White Sox had, but it’s also the reason I had a lot of optimism coming into this season.
I had a feeling that a lot of the black holes the White Sox had last year would rebound - which they have – even exceeding my expectations. I had Rios projected at 2.5 WAR, so I did have faith in the guy, but I never could have predicted this.
Rios has been one of the most consistent hitters the White Sox have had this season, proving to me he is the true MVP in 2012. His .292/.323/.505/.828 slash-line, paired with exceptional defense in right field, is a big reason why the White Sox are where they are at in the American League Central. One of the most impressive statistics Rios can brag about is his .984 OPS with RISP this season. Although clutch isn’t a “skill” per say, in-season statistics like that are very telling on how important someone is to their team, which is why I believe Rios is the team’s MVP.
It’s basically a two-man race between him and AJ Pierzynski, and I just cannot get over how bad Pierzynski’s defense has been this year. If you want some perspective on how bad Pierzyski has been behind the plate, here you go, Pierzynski is in the top-5 in all defensive mishaps (SB, PB, WP). Thanks for the offensive output AJ, but I have enough gray hairs as is.
So, White Sox fans, I think it’s finally time to forgive and forget Alex Rios’ bad seasons. Sure, he may not look like he’s trying all the time. Whatever. Without Alex Rios performing the way he has in 2012, they are looking up at Detroit. Instead, Detroit is looking up at the White Sox, wishing they had an Alex Rios of their own.