In looking at the Kansas City Royals offense, the two biggest holes would appear to be at second base and right field. Understandably, that is where the focus has been in regards to trade discussions involving the lineup, as neither Omar Infante nor Alex Rios have performed to expectations this season.
It has been especially frustrating to see Rios struggle. He had started off his Royals career on fire, scorching the ball through Spring Training and into the first week of the season, before landing on the disabled list with a fractured hand. Then, after Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando struggled in his absence, Rios’ return was hoped to be the catalyst that the offense needed. Instead, he struggled as well, producing even below the modest totals that the Dyson/Orlando platoon had generated.
Now that the trade deadline is fast approaching, it appears as though Rios is finally rounding back in to form. Since July 1st, Rios has posted a .319/.404/.447 batting line, hitting a home run and three doubles with three stolen bases. That production is certainly a lot closer to what the Royals expected.
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Naturally, it is fair to wonder if this uptick in production is sustainable. With the trade deadline fast approaching, and with the Kansas City Royals potentially finding themselves in need of several upgrades on their roster, that question becomes even more important. In fact, depending on what the Royals determine, that answer could make a major impact upon their postseason performance.
Looking at Alex Rios’ performance since the start of July, it may be that he will be able to continue this production. His batting line is fueled by a reasonable .342 batting average on balls in play, a mark that is not abnormally above league average. Rios also has a 24% line drive rate this season, indicating that his struggles may have been partially due to bad luck with the batted ball as opposed to the type of contact that he has made.
While an upgrade in right could help the Royals, Rios may not be the black hole in the lineup that he appeared to be only two weeks ago. He may have simply been working through his injury issues, and getting his timing back after such a long layoff. Just because a player may have better overall numbers does not necesitate that he would be an upgrade over what Rios provides offensively. Now, if only he could stop reminding the Royals faithful of Nori Aoki and his misadventures defensively in right…..
The expectation is that the Kansas City Royals will seek out an upgrade in right field. If Alex Rios can sustain his July production, he may actually be the upgrade the Royals thought they had at the start of the year.