9:45 AM CDT, September 20, 2012
For the longest time, it appeared that Adam Dunn was a lock for Comeback Player of the Year, and he still might win it as he heads to another 40-homer/100-RBI season after last year’s 11-homer/42-RBI disaster.
But I’d suggest Alex Rios would be more deserving.
I’m not trying to diminish Dunn’s numbers or contributions. I haven’t forgotten his terrific start, not am I ignoring how his every swing in April and May seemed to turn a game for a White Sox team that was turning into a contender.
But start to finish, with the bat and glove, Rios has been the Sox’s best player. I don’t know if he has been more valuable than Chris Sale, Addison Reed or Alejandro De Aza -- they certainly gets votes for biggest surprises -- but I know that Rios has been the Sox’s best player.
While Rios’ 24 homers can’t compete with Dunn’s 39 this season, he is only three RBIs behind Dunn (90-87) and tops him in batting average by a large margin (.301-.210) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage by a smaller difference (.853-.827).
Everywhere you look, the White Sox No. 5 hitter has had the type of season that warrants a piece of hardware after last year’s .227-13-44 faceplant.
Heading into Thursday night’s game against the vexing Royals in vexing Kansas City, Rios leads led Sox regulars in hits and slugging percentage, ranks second in batting average, on-base-plus-slugging percentage, RBIs and stolen bases, and is third in homers.
What else do you want?
Oh yeah, defense. The Sox right fielder has played well most of the time and outstanding at others.
Overall, his 4.1 wins above replacement topped the Sox and tied him for 11thin the AL.
Rios always seems to be doing something important, and that was just Monday and Tuesday.
His hard slide against Detroit broke up a double play and allowed the tying and winning runs to score.
Next day, his solo homer beat the Royals in Kansas City.
The Sox had to beat those teams to continue their drive to win the division. Rios made sure they did.
Rios deserves something. Comeback Player of the Year might be it.
Or, given the kind of season the Sox are having and the absence of a dominant team, maybe Rios pulls a Jermaine Dye.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC