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Adam Dunn and Alex Rios: The Future of the ChiSox Sluggers

Monday October 10, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  There were perhaps no two bigger fantasy busts than Alexis Rios and Adam Dunn during the 2011 season. Although nobody was “screwed over” more than White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, many fantasy owners surely had a hard time overcoming the incompetency of these two players.

Although Dunn’s performance was unexpected by many, we have seen this from Alex Rios before.  Rios reemerged on the scene in 2010 as one of the rare five category players: .284 avg, 21 HR, 89 RBI, and 34 SB. However, Rios really tailed off at the end of his 2010 season and looked a lot more like the player that the Toronto Blue Jays flat-out released a year prior.  His 2011 numbers look eerie similar to 2009:

2009: .247, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 24 SB

2011: .227, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 11 SB

Oddly, 2008 and 2010 were different stories for Rios, as he amassed a total of 9.3 WAR in those two seasons. There is no doubt that Rios suffered from bad luck in 2011. He .237 BAPIP is 70 points below his career average. However, the fact remains that Rios is now on the wrong side of thirty. It is doubtful any team would make the same mistake Williams already has and taken on his salary, so chances are Rios will still be in Chicago. With his large contract and a new manager in town, I think it is safe to assume it will be his position to lose in 2012.

Rios’ inconsistencies throughout his career make him a difficult player to evaluate, but you have to think he will bounce back and be a good buy-low candidate. Whatever you do just do not overpay. His peripheral numbers indicate that his power is still there and that his batting average should improve perhaps to his career .270 range. We also cannot ignore his strong finish, batting .307, 5 HR and 12 RBI in his last 75 at-bats. It has been said that he “over thinks” and struggles with the mental side of the game, but his physical skills are undeniable. 

The signs indicate that Rios will bounce back in 2012 for a rebuilding White Sox team. Therefore, target him as a backup or final outfield option for a cheap price. Pay for the player he was in 2011 and hope to get the 2008/2010 Rios in return. With his track record it is simply not safe to pay for him as a .280/20 HR/80 RBI/20 SB guy that he could very well be.

I think you have to take the same approach with the other White Sox enigma, Adam Dunn. Dunn was the model of consistent for the last 10 years, and he appeared to be in a great position to succeed in Chicago in 2011. However, his strikeout rate increased to a stagger 35.7 percent, and when he did manage to put the ball in play, his .240 BABIP left him with a .159 season average. Historically bad.

Dunn is also aging and was noticeably out of shape last year. Watching him play every day, he simply seemed over matched and had trouble recovering form an early season appendectomy. Dunn has to realize what is at stake here (his career) and hopefully he picked up something from Paul Konerko’s professionalism and approach to the game.

The fact remains that with his contract, Dunn will get the chance to turn things around in 2012. If he has a repeat performance, then the White Sox might be forced to just cut ties and move on. Therefore, 2012 is truly do-or-die for Mr. Dunn. Thus, I expect him to put in the time in the off-season and bounce back next year. It is not to say that Dunn will put up the same numbers as he has in the past, but the home run total could still exceed thirty. U.S. Cellular Field is a notorious hitters park, and Dunn still has the ability to take advantage of its favorable dimensions.

The good news, fantasy owners and White Sox fans, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn cannot be any worse in 2012! The fact is they will both be giving an opportunity to bounce back in 2012 and try to prove the worth of their 14 million dollar per year contracts. Although, they will never come close to doing this, they can provide value for you next year. These are the types of guys that I love to target for cheap on my fantasy teams. Rios has bounced back before, and although his inconsistencies are mind bogglingly frustrating; it is not crazy to expect him to do so again. Bad luck, reflected by BAPIP, played a factor for both of these players. And with Dunn, if he does put in the offseason commitment, his track record is too long and strong to ignore. Therefore, expect both guys to bounce back.  Just don’t put your self in the position where you are counting on it.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 

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