Edwin “New Papi” Rios

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The Dodgers seem to be in on Edwin Rios as they let Joctober move to Chicago. Leaving only the void of his magical pop. But in comes Big Papi 2.0 in 26 year old, Edwin Rios.

Beyond that, we think one of the biggest reasons it took so long to sign Turner, is because of the confidence the Dodgers have in Edwin Rios in being a game changing lefty at bat. Hear us out, as we break down possibly the future home run leader of the 2020s.

Highlights

  • Rios Breakdown by Tools
  • Conclusion

Rios Tools Breakdown

  • Power: 65

At 6’3″, 220 pounds, it shouldn’t surprise many that power is Rios’s number one tool to us. His average exit velocity in his short career is a whopping 92.6 MPH. For those that don’t remember 95+ MPH is considered a hard hit ball, and he averaged 95 MPH in 2019 already.

His career slugging percentage so far, .634. Of batters with at least 75 at bats in 2020, Rios ranked 4th in SLG. It raised him up to the 15th overall OPS among batters with at least 75 at bats. And that doesn’t include the offseason (although his offseason was mostly meh besides…). But to us, Rios looks like he could be the second coming of none other than Big Papa.

So far Rios hits a home run 1 out of every 11.6 PA’s or roughly 8.6% of the time. He hits a homer 1 out of every 10 at bats (taking out sac hits and walks). The MLB average home run percentage? Only 3.6%. He’s more than twice as likely to homer than the average MLB player.

  • Arm: 55

He has a strong fielding arm that’s capable of playing all of the corner positions from the infield to the outfield. His arm hasn’t been tested much, but with power usually comes a strong arm behind it.

  • Hit: 50

Now we grade Rios higher on his hit ability than he was graded as a prospect. And without a doubt, his contact ability at the plate was rough when he first appeared. Big swings come with big misses.

However, he seems to be improving his contact ability overall and proving to be at least an average hitter (.260-.280). In 2019 he hit better on paper at .277 but with an xBA of .260 saying he was a little lucky. Last year, he seemed to improve at the plate, but he only hit .250. But his xBA rose to .285.

He cut down his strikeout rate from almost double the league average, all the way down TO the league average (21.8%). He began to balance himself out against every type of pitch. (He still struggles with breaking pitches)

The last piece of resistance was lowering his groundball rate. We’ll get to it, but Rios is slowwww, and ground balls are almost exclusively outs for him. But he lowered his groundball rate a full 14% to be a full 13% below the league average rate.

  • Field: 45

Once viewed best as a DH, Rios has worked very hard to be serviceable in multiple positions for he Dodgers. He now plays 1st, 3rd, and LF for the team, granted below average for now.

In 2019, Rios had a Success Rate Added (Estimate Success – Actual Success) of -20% overall according to statcast. For 3rd, it was a SRA of -38%. Just brutal.

Then in 2020, Rios came back well practiced and lowered his SRA overall to -4%. Mostly thanks to lowering that awful 3rd base rate down to 4% in 2020. Again, he’s still a sub-par fielder as of now, but it almost seems like that was a lack of trying from coaching staffs and himself.

Now he’s motivated and wants to play for a World Series contending team. It should be interesting to see how he fares in LF as well without Joc. If he can prove average out there, it could be a path to almost starting level at bats. And with Bellinger and Mookie easily covering 75% of the field, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Pair it all with his strong arm, if Rios still improves the glove, he has the potential of being a defensive asset instead of a liability. Dodgers should invest heavy in the New Papi.

  • Run: 30

There’s not a lot to do here. Rios is a big man. Big things are hard to get in motion. Plus half his hits are home runs and he gets to choose his pace.

He is still improving as of now, most likely from conditioning. He upped his 2019 speed of 25.7 ft/s to 26.3 ft/s in 2020. It ranks him in the 34th percentile in the league as of now. It should be interesting if he can take another leap forward this upcoming year.

It would help him in the outfield, his batting average, and possibly be enough to steal a couple bags this upcoming year.

But he’ll never be a speed demon. At best, we assume Rios can max out around the league average. We think he can still speed up these next two years, but most likely we can just hope for him to maintain his levels into his 30s.

Conclusion

The Dodgers have the right to be excited and committed to Rios. He’s entering his physical prime and it has the potential to be very special. He’s hitting home runs at a rate equal to some of the greatest batters of all time. But best of all, he’s showing he’s capable of improving.

He’s gotten better at just about every facet of his game in an attempt to lock a spot on this insanely talented roster. The lack of a DH really hurts Rios in 2021, but 2022 and 2023 looks like years of change to the current roster. We would bet on Rios being somewhere in the center of the lineup by then.

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