Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Should Brian Rios be Hitting Cleanup?

The accepted wisdom is that the Seals are better than their 2-8 record indicates and they just need to catch a few breaks. They seem to get almost as many hits as their opponents, but fall short in scoring runs. Could it be that they just haven't done a good job getting clutch hits? If that's the case then one might be tempted to point the finger at what has been a gaping hole in the middle of the Seals batting order: cleanup hitter Brian Rios.

Rios is a 34-year-old journeyman who has been playing third base and hitting fourth. He's in his 6th consecutive year of independent ball, so you have to admire his determination. However, Rios is hitting a paltry .175 with 3 RBIs and has a slugging percentage of only .325 through his first 40 at-bats. In his defense, one might shrug this off as a short-term slump and point to his .337 batting average for the Orange County Flyers last season. But a closer look at his career stats indicate that he isn't your prototypical cleanup hitter. Rios has only 49 homers in 2,718 career at-bats and has not hit more than five homers in a season since 2001 when he was in AAA with Klinger's favourite team (the Toledo Mudhens).

Victoria manager Darrell Evans obviously has confidence in Rios (Evans was his batting coach in Orange County last season). It's easy to second-guess the manager, even if he does have over 400 career homers in the bigs -- but I'll do it anyways. It's time to move Rios down in the batting order until he starts to contribute some extra-base hits with consistency (Rios has only 3 doubles and 1 homer in 40 AB's). I'd move him down to 8th and put someone else who is swinging a hot bat in his place (e.g. Joshua Arhart).