Eleven million dollars.
That is a manly bet.
Dayton Moore has made just that on Alex Rios. Thirty-four year old Alex Rios. Enigmatic, sometimes disinterested, Alex Rios. I play a lot of craps. I’ve got nothing on Dayton Moore when it comes to gambling.
There was a time when Alex Rios was being compared to the likes of Carlos Beltran. From 2006 through 2008, Rios was a force, by both traditional and advanced measurements. Rios was worth somewhere between 13 and 16 WAR in those three years (fWAR liked him better than bWAR, but they both liked him plenty). He slugged, he ran, he got on base and he played defense. Alex Rios could play the game and he’s made $75 million doing it.
Along the way, however, things have changed. Maybe you can still compare him to Beltran, but only to the current Carlos whose body has let him down. Since being a legitimate All-Star, Rios has twice posted on-base percentages below .300. His defense has gone from an asset to a negative seemingly overnight…and stayed there for the past four seasons. Rios’ walk rate is almost half what it was during his days as a budding star. Alex still runs and runs well, when he feels like it, but he also hit four (4) home runs last season….in Texas.
Now thirty-four, it is getting harder to distinguish between whether the lack of production is a result of Rios’ disinterest and the simple fact that he just might be getting old or that a thumb injury is to blame. The Royals are betting that Alex Rios on a one year deal (with an option of course) will be motivated, rejuvenated, focused…all that, maybe even some grit. It might be a bad gamble or it might be a Melky Cabrera resurgence.
As many of you know, Baseball Reference has a Similarity Score which is mostly just fun. I took some heat for noting that their formula compared Eric Hosmer to Keith Hernandez at the same age, so we’ll proceed with caution. Now, if Hosmer is an MVP winner this season, like Hernandez was at the same point in their careers then Baseball Reference will laugh at you and your little dog.
I bring this up because Alex Rios has a fun list on his Similarity Score, starting with the top name: Amos Otis. After Amos, comes Claudell Washington, Andy Van Slyke, Chet Lemon, Marquis Grissom, Gary Maddox and Dusty Baker. That’s a good list and testament to what Rios has done, however sporadically and how far in the past it may have been.
Otis was solid in his age 34 season (it was strike shortened) and average at age 35, but done after that. Washington was not good at age 34 and done after that. Van Slyke put up good numbers at age 34, but didn’t play after that. Chet Lemon had a poor age 34 season, but a decent age 35 campaign (albeit minus all power), but was then done. Grissom had an awful age 34 season, but then posted two of his best three power years at age 35 and 36 (although his on-base percentage was in decline). Gary Maddox had not been an above average offensive performer since he was 29 and did nothing from 34 on to change that. Dusty Baker, an All-Star at 33, was a part-time player by age 35.
As good as the list under Alex Rios’ Similarity Score may be, the guys on it were in decline or basically done when they were the same age as Rios will be in 2015. Like I began, it’s a helluva a gamble.