Since being traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2009, Alex Rios has been inconsistent. In his first full season with the White Sox in 2010, Rios put up respectable numbers— .284 AVG, 21 HR, 88 RBI— but his production still wasn’t what Sox fans were expecting. In 2011, it got much worse for Rios. Hitting a dismal .227 and only driving in 44 runs, Rios was painfully bad. Thankfully, in 2012, the “good” Alex Rios came back. Reaching career highs in home runs, batting average and runs batted in, the 31-year-old outfielder was a huge component in the White Sox offense. Rios was also outstanding on defense, and managed to swipe 23 bases in 29 attempts.
So, with the start of the 2013 season right around the corner, which Alex Rios will the White Sox get? The productive one from last year, or the 2011 version who struggled to hit above his own weight?
I believe the “good” Alex Rios will once again be present for the White Sox this year. And a productive, confident Rios in 2013 will do wonders for the White Sox postseason aspirations.
Entering his 10th year in the MLB, it seems as if Rios is finally comfortable as the everyday right fielder for the Sox. In his first few seasons in Chicago, Rios was constantly changing his batting stance. At some points, Rios looked very uncomfortable at the plate. Last year, however, Rios found a stance and swing that worked for him. Staying short and quick, Rios was able to hit the ball hard to both sides of the field. If Rios sticks to the same approach he had in 2012, he will once again be a key factor in the White Sox’s success this season.
With all the talk this off-season being about how the Detroit Tigers will once again win the AL Central, Alex Rios and the White Sox are perfectly fine with staying under the radar. Rios embodies the new style of baseball that White Sox manager, Robin Ventura, has put in place. Show up each day with the right mindset, work hard and let your play speak for itself is the attitude Ventura expects from his players, and it’s exactly how Rios carries himself.
I can understand why White Sox fans are hesitant to say Rios will have back-to-back productive years. It’s been Rios’ lack of consistency that has hampered him since joining the Sox. But if the South Siders want to be playing meaningful games in September and October this year, they will need Rios to be a force in their offense. As long as Rios remains relaxed at the plate and brings his workmanlike attitude to the ballpark each day, being a leader for the White Sox this season shouldn’t be a problem. While most of the MLB may have low expectations for Rios and the Sox in 2013, in my eyes we could be looking at an All-Star right fielder, and an AL Central champion.