Remember the disappointment when Alex Rios was hit by the pitch that put him on the shelf for more than a month? Kansas City Royals fans were outraged that yet another player – and one who was on fire at the plate – had been drilled by a pitcher. Rios, at the time, had a .321/.345/.464 (.809 OPS) slash line and fans were excited to have such an upgrade over 2014’s right fielder, Nori Aoki.
Of course we were judging Rios on 29 plate appearances. So there was no way to know at that point what he’d really go on to do in 2015.
Rios returned on May 31 and saw his numbers plummet. By June 13, that slash line had fallen to .197/.232/.273 (.505 OPS) and some fans were growing impatient, labeling the Rios signing a bust. Never mind that the injury was to his hand…kind of an important piece of anatomy for someone who makes his living swinging a bat.
More from KC Royals News
- KC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchers
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million man
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
So, fans, after clamoring for his return once “Triple Machine” Paulo Orlando cooled off…were now wondering if we had any way of coming up with a better option than Rios. Again, based on a small sample size of just 40 plate appearances (from May 31 through June 13).
In a season of small sample size judgments for Rios…maybe it’s time we all pile back on the bandwagon yet again. Since hitting that low point, Rios has been hitting at a clip reminiscent of the first chapter of his 2015 tale. In his last six games/25 plate appearances, Rios has a slash of .348/.360/.391 (.751 OPS).
The slugging still isn’t there – only one extra base hit in this most recent stretch – but he’s hitting the ball well and getting on base. He even swiped a base against the Red Sox on Saturday, a component of his game that has largely been missing this year (3 SB in 2015 for a guy who had 82 combined SB from 2012-2014).
Yes, it still looks bad when you’re at the ballgame and you see his .236/.266/.303 slash line staring at you in beautiful high definition from the scoreboard…but in a season of small chapters, he has a lot of story to be told.
If he can hit the rest of the way at a clip similar to his 2013 season (overlooking 2014 as he battled a wrist injury most of the year), a year that saw him hit .278/.324/.432 with 18 homers and 42 steals…well then…we’d have to take that, right? If Rios can replicate his 2013 home run rate, and gets another 300 or so PA this year, he should hit something along the lines of another 8 to 10 homers in 2015.
A right fielder who could hit .275+ with a little pop who has the potential to make some noise on the bases? I’ll take that.