Rios' slump is part of the package

Looking at Alex Rios’ splits, I was surprised to see that his he’s only had one month with an OPS above .800. That’s unusual, considering he has an OPS of .830 right now. His sterling May (.344/.406/.700) has done wonders for his overall season.
But I originally looked at his splits to see what he’s done in the second half, and it isn’t pretty. He’s hitting .270/.298/.360, and his recent slump — combined with one huge month skewing his overall production — has caused some alarm. James Fegan of White Sox Observer pulls out all the stops:

But there are also holes.  Deep, dark, horrifying holes.  He averaged 41 doubles per year during his three-year prime stretch, and barely has half that at present (21).  His stolen bases are high because Ozzie runs him all the time, but his success rate has dipped toward the unjustifiable side (68.5%), and he’s already set a career-high in times caught stealing…by 3.  His UZR is even the worst it has ever been save for last season when he was clouded by sadness.  29 is not that young apparently.

All of these points are true and valid, but there are a few reasons to hold off on getting truly concerned.
Rios has a history of having at least one horrible month. Last year, he had a lot of terrible months, but in the past, it’s been August, September, and May. I’ve been anticipating it since April, and it looks like it’s here.
He certainly doesn’t look comfortable, as judged by his hand position, which has varied over the past few weeks.

July 26, Wednesday, and Sunday.
It could be bad habits set in, or maybe he’s trying to take stress off a sore wrist. But it looks like he’s trying to feel things out, and it’s not going well. That’s happened before.
He’s cushioned the slump some by hitting .276 with runners in scoring position since the break, and it seems like he’s good for the kind of RBI singles he hit on Saturday and Sunday.
The defense is a justifiable criticism, and it seems like he’s been a step slower in his reads at times. But I don’t think you can carry over any speed theories to his stolen-base percentage. A lot of the blame for his success rate goes to Ozzie Guillen. It’s not just Rios — the Sox, on the whole, have been caught 55 times, which is 14 more times than the next-least-successful team.
Rios should be fine. There’s a reason why track records exist, and his says that he’s an outfielder who’s good for an OPS a couple ticks below .800 with good defense. He’s on pace to meet expectations, and in his traditional way. He might’ve teased with his huge May, but I’d rather his slump take place later. He had plenty of baggage on Opening Day. If he started the season hitting like this, he might still be hitting like this.
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Juan Pierre is the opposite of Rios in many ways. You can include recent performance, as Pierre is riding a 15-game hitting streak and a .367 OBP since the All-Star break.
But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about his game all season: Whenever he catches the third out, he never gives the ball to a fan. Instead, he usually tosses it to Rios, or maybe the third baseman/shortstop if he’s catching the ball in foul territory.
It’s not a big deal, and wasn’t worth a mention until he went out of his way to fake out a fan who thought he was getting an easy souvenir following a catch at the warning track. I was more surprised by the first part than the second, because usually nothing about his body language even suggests he’s thinking about throwing it into the stands.
(Update: sobosox presents a very valid reason why Pierre may keep his balls to himself.)
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Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Mark Teahen will probably stay in Charlotte the full 20 days as the team rotates him through the positions he’s likely to play upon his return.
*Gordon Beckham will miss tonight’s game against Baltimore due to a moderate groin strain, and probably the opener against Minnesota. Doug Padilla sets up that series.
*Paul Konerko issued a warning about the trials of August.
*Oral Sox has a new podcast up.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 3, Toledo 2
    • Carlos Torres cruised through seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out four. He threw just 92 pitches.
    • Mark Teahen (3B) went 0-for-3 with a sac fly and a strikeout.
    • Brent Morel (3B) was also hitless, striking out twice.
    • Jordan Danks also struck out twice, but singled in his other AB.
  • Mississippi 8, Birmingham 1
    • Kyle Bellamy struck out three over two scoreless innings, allowing a pair of hits and a pair of walks.
    • Christian Marrero walked once and struck out twice.
    • Eduardo Escobar was 1-for-4 with an RBI.
  • Frederick 8, Winston-Salem 6
    • Brandon Short went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout.
    • Jon Gilmore wore the collar, striking out once.
    • Jose Martinez went 1-for-4.
    • Nathan Jones allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over five innings, striking out six.
  • Kannapolis 5, Hagerstown 4 (Game 1, 7 innings)
    • Kyle Colligan went 0-for-3; Nick Ciolli went 0-for-2 with a walk and a K.
    • Brady Shoemaker went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.
  • Hagerstown 9, Kannapolis 4 (Game 2, 7 innings)
    • Tyler Saladino went 1-for-3 with a walk.
    • Brady Shoemaker walked once and struck out twice.
    • Nick Ciolli went 1-for-3 with two RBI and a strikeout.
    • Miguel Gonzalez also went 1-for-3.
  • Pulaski 8, Bristol 1
    • Daniel Black went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a strikeout.
  • Great Falls 9, Helena 4
    • Ross Wilson went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI.
    • Andy Wilkins was hitless with a strikeout.
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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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fustercluck

Juanito did that same fakeout a few days ago to the fans on the line, after he caught the 3rd out running into foul territory. Should we really be surprised that a guy named Pierre can be kind of a dick?

knoxfire30

Anyone else think that Juan getting thrown multiple times then hit, right after that was more then coincidence???

fustercluck

Juan sure thought so

sobosox

This may be related to Pierre not throwing balls into the stands:
http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/6261695
Fan sues Marlins for ball thrown in stands
Badillo, 44, claims Pierre damaged vision permanently

knoxfire30

Come on Jim, how do you not mention the dominant performance by Jeremy Guthrie???? I think he is owed a hat tip.

knoxfire30

Guthrie’s current level of productivity and track record might be a bit different then the other two clowns the orioles ran out against us.

Shinons

And he’s just so dreamy…

bigfun

If the Sox had traded for him, Guthrie would have lost one of his biggest advantages – getting to face White Sox hitters. Crafty garbage men around the league must eagerly await games against the Sox. Andy Sonnanstine probably hopes he can get traded to an AL Central team just so he can kick their asses that much more often.

soxicano

If there is anyone in this lineup that has proven they can get out of a dark and terrifying slump its Alex Rios. He has exceeded expectations for the most part because even though he is not as explosive doubles hitter as we thought, he has picked up his home run numbers. He already has the total of last season (17) and there are 50 or so games left to play. Looks like he is going to exceed his career high RBI total as well. Really now, who even thought he would be hitting 3rd moving Quentin down the batting lineup? not me. I will take 30 or so stolen bases from any number 3 hitter any day. Go Alex! Go Sox! Boricua!! Also maybe Bobby Jenks should take some pointers from Ramon Castro about how to still play good baseball and be fat. The Mets totally missed the forest for the trees on Castro.

ricksch

It was too bad Castro let that ball skip past him, in the, what was it, sixth? He did get us two back in the 9th, which is, again, more offensive production than AJ supplies in a given week. Hope he starts the new few while AJ mends.
Rios seems to be missing the fire. Has he ever won a championship at any level? Blue Jays were past their heydey when he was there.
Orioles ONLY have a winning record against the Sox and KC over the last five years. Can’t let them get another today with the Twins’ showdown looming. Don’t wanna be tied, uh, uh. Don’t want to hear the word TIED all week. Freddy is going to have to be craftier than Guthrie.

Buehrlesque

Plus, doesn’t it seem like those vocal/”fire” guys get the short end of the stick here anyway? A guy like Orlando Cabrera immediately comes to mind.

blah

I think of Carlos Zambrano

ricksch

I know it’s a cliche that’s followed Rios around, but it does seem to fit.
But I think “the fire”, as it’s define in baseball isn’t just the rah-rah crap, but more the sort of laser focus/prepared for war mentality that Konerko has in spades. The season’s a marathon and guys lose focus. When Rios does it, it’s glaring cause he’s cool to begin with. All this to say I have no idea if he’ll come out of his slump and when, but if he starts screwing up in center, then we have a serious problem.
Rather not have hot-heads on the team. Though someone’s got to be the comic relief.