July 15, 2011
The Problem: Left field. Juan Pierre has been hitting of late, but all that means is that his season average is up to a whopping .269/.330/.314. He also has the sudden and mysterious defensive problems that have changed him from a decent little left fielder with a horrible arm to a bad left fielder with a horrible arm.
The Solution: Dayan Viciedo. The 22-year-old Cuban is having a breakout year at Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .325/.374/.535 in 87 games. Possessing some of the best bat speed in the minors, he has the ability to hit for both average and power, and he’s made tremendous strides in his approach. Trust me, his 25 walks over 342 at-bats might not look like much, but it actually represents a massive step forward. He’s not better defensively than Pierre; at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds he’s more of a round mound of bat pound (sorry, Charles Barkley), but he could add much-needed life to a White Sox lineup that currently scares opponents with just two players—Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin.
… This year Rios has played like one of the worst players in baseball. We know he’s not one of the worst, at least in terms of talent. He’s put it on display before. But it’s not as though this is just a half-season slump that we can expect to correct itself. In the last calendar year Rios has hit .233/.282/.346, which amounts to a .277 wOBA. That ranks 137th out of the 140 qualified players. He has produced just 0.2 WAR in that time as well, which ranks 134th. Given this poor year-long performance, it’s tough to expect an improvement from Rios in the second half.
The problem extends even if we go back two calendar years. In that span Rios has hit .251/.299/.395, a .305 wOBA, and has been worth 2.6 WAR. That ranks 114th out of 133 qualified players. If we take that back even another year, which would include Rios’s worthwhile 2008 season — and give us the magical three-year sample for UZR — he has produced 6.5 WAR, which ranks 89th out of 124. His batting runs above average in the last three years is -10.3, which ranks 109th out of 124. Any way you look at it, his numbers are a far cry from the 8.6 WAR (29th out of 151) he produced from 2006 through 2007. …
Other White Sox links: FutureSox talks to Doug Laumann about the Sox drafting philosophy and more, J.J. talks about Rick Hahn topping SI’s list of GMs in the making, Alexei Ramirez is Fangraphs’ 31st Trade Value in MLB, and Matt Snyder at CBS Sports writes about Dayan Viciedo’s magnificent power.