One of the reasons that the Chicago White Sox were so successful this year had to do with their MVP. While some may say that is Paul Konerko, I will say that the MVP for the White Sox in 2012 was Alex Rios and hitting coach Jeff Manto.
2011 was disastrous for Rios, as he hit .227 and looked completely lost at the plate. 2011 was one of the worst years that Rios had in his professional career. The batting stance that Rios used was messed up as well. Something had to change to get Rios back on track. He also didn’t look comfortable in center field.
I don’t think that former hitting coach Greg Walker had to do with the decline of Rios in 2011, I do think that sometimes a new voice in a player’s ear will get them to change. Enter Robin Ventura and Manto. Manto worked closely with Rios to fix his batting stance and to stop him from swinging at so many high pitches. Meanwhile, Ventura made Rios his everyday right fielder. What happened with the improved batting stance and the change in defense?
Rios excelled in all offensive categories in 2012. He hit .305, had an on base percentage of .365, drove in 91 runs, and hit 25 home runs. He also seemed to get his speed back and stole 23 bases. His wins above replacement was 4.2 and those are pretty good numbers.
Defensively, Rios looked a lot more comfortable in right field. He only committed seven errors and had a fielding percentage of .980.
While some White Sox fans think that Rios will regress I don’t think that he will. I don’t think that Rios is the type of player where he has a great season then has a terrible one. Before arriving to the White Sox, Rios was a pretty consistent hitter.
White Sox fans have been complaining for a consistent right fielder since Jermaine Dye left. I think that Rios has turned into that. Of course it helps that he is willing to listen to Manteo and that Ventura put him back in right field.
Now all the White Sox need is for Manto to work with Adam Dunn to stop swinging at almost every pitch.