Bright Spot: Alex Rios

It’s been a weird season for the Texas Rangers. The month of May seemed to be a constant struggle, despite the great series in Detroit. The Rangers finished the month at .500 and went 13-15 for its duration. Of course, fans can’t expect much better when a lot of the starting roster is on the disabled list, but there have been a couple of bright spots in the lineup and especially in May. One of the guys who have performed well and has been fun to watch at the plate is Alex Rios.

Alex Rios was acquired from the White Sox in exchange for just Leury Garcia during the 2013 season after the trade deadline to take Nelson Cruz’s spot when he was suspended for the last 50 games of the season. No one expected him to step into Cruz’s shoes with the power, but he served well. He hit .280/.315/.457 with the Rangers for those last 50 games and was a fair replacement. With one year left on his contract, the Rangers still had the right field replacement for 2014 once deciding that if Cruz stayed, he’d be a designated hitter, and Rios has kept the ball rolling in production and built on his last year.

For the 2014 season, Rios has been hitting .320/.352/.473 with thirteen doubles and a league-leading six triples. He’s 5th in the MLB on the total hits list with 71. It’s been fun to watch the consistency of Alex Rios at the plate. He struggles with patience a bit. He has only twelve walks on the season, and he may not have tremendous power, but he’s getting on base regularly, and that’s more important than all homeruns, all the time.

Alex Rios had a pretty great month of May. Six of his twelve walks and five of his six triples came in the last month. He also hit two homeruns and swiped five bases. He and Adrian Beltre kept the offense afloat during a month that just seemed to be sluggish. If you’re keeping Adrian Beltre company in anything, there’s not much to critique. His slash for May was .312/.345/.505, which was actually consistent to his April slash .308/.342/.404, just with a bit more power. Those triples and two homeruns helped boost his slugging.

In 2015, Alex Rios has a club option for $13.5 MM. Previously, it’s been thought that Michael Choice will be ready, and Rios would be let go. However, this season Choice has been less than impressive. Lots of things could explain it. He doesn’t get regular playing time at one position. He needs more development time. He’s still young. Any one of these could be true. Choice has proven that he has the talent in the minors, but it hasn’t translated into the Majors just yet. If Rios keeps up with the consistent production, picking up his option so Michael Choice can get some more development time seems most likely. Engel Beltre’s injury this season gave Choice an opportunity, but he hasn’t succeeded. At this rate, Alex Rios will be a Texas Ranger again next season.

The Rangers outfield has been solid this season. With Shin-Soo Choo in left field and getting on base like a machine, Leonys Martin in center who has also upped his production and has a cannon-arm, and then Alex Rios in right field, there isn’t much to complain about. Those three sit atop the Rangers ranks in fWAR, and it shouldn’t be a surprise. Aside from the occasional collision (okay, that needs work), they’ve been the most productive players on the team. It’s nice to have a group to rely on. These guys will be back next year, too. So cheers to the future.

Emily Cates

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