Can Alex Rios Replace Nelson Cruz's Bat in Texas Rangers Lineup?
Alex Rios is officially a Texas Ranger.
According to Sullivan, Rios is excited to play for a contending team once again instead of the lowly White Sox. Said Rios:
You know what, with the situation that we were in, it wasn’t too much of a surprise. They were trying to get rid of salary or whatever they wanted to do. I think many people expected this to happen. You know what, it’s all good.
The Rangers are likely thrilled that they were able to acquire the best player available via waivers after already landing the crown jewel of the MLB trade deadline, Matt Garza.
The Rangers were tied with the Oakland Athletics for the AL West lead entering Friday night's action, and Cruz's absence did not bode well for the Rangers going down the stretch. However, adding Rios to the lineup for the weekend will be a huge boost.
The real question facing Texas right now is whether or not Rios will completely make up for the loss of Cruz.
Rios certainly can hit for contact on par with Cruz, and his defense is considerably better as well. However, one look at the two players' stats will tell you that Rios lacks in the power department.
Rangers fans will be sad to see Cruz's power out of the lineup, as he led the team in home runs and RBI this season before getting suspended. He was also second in slugging behind Adrian Beltre.
The team will now rely heavily on Beltre to be the slugger who strikes fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. He is now the only player on the team with at least 20 home runs, as he sits at 25, which is nine ahead of Mitch Moreland, who stands second on the team in the wake of Cruz's absence.
The Rangers still have decent power throughout their lineup, however, as Beltre leads six players with double-digit home runs. Jeff Baker's nine home runs in 44 games is also very impressive, although he hasn't hit one since June 10.
Losing Cruz's power certainly hurts, but the addition of Rios' 12 dingers into the lineup is certainly an improvement over Cruz's replacement, Craig Gentry. Gentry only has one home run this year in 64 games, so adding Rios into the mix is a huge boost.
Rios will also provide a contact-hitting outfielder who can put pressure on opposing pitchers. He won't be the cleanup hitter for the team, but he can get things going following the heart of the order if he takes over for Cruz in the six-spot.
Here's a look at how the team's lineup could look with Rios in it:
|Batting Position||Player||Fielding Position|
This lineup would give the team a solid combination of contact hitting and speed at the top and a pretty powerful cleanup trio of Kinsler, Beltre and Pierzynski to start things off. Then comes Rios and his solid bat, and if he gets on the last third of the lineup isn't too shabby, either.
Obviously Rios doesn't have Cruz's power and his contact hitting isn't enough to make up for that. However, adding him to the mix is a good move by the Rangers, and it will solidify the lineup as the team attempts to make a push into the postseason.
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