Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 10/23/14
Rios
Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox

Rios has been one of the most frustrating fantasy players in recent memory. Throughout his career he has both tantalized and tormented us with up-and-down seasons, and 2012 is no different. Rios batted .311 in April, but he contributed just one homer, one steal, six runs and eight RBI. Given how he stumbled through 2011 to a .227 average, at least he was giving us something, but you can’t roster a player on pace for six homers, six steals, 36 runs and 48 RBI just because he’s hitting over .300.

Since then Rios has been a completely different player. He’s flashing some power of late, hitting four homers in his last 10 games, and though his batting average has dropped it’s not because he’s striking out more. To the contrary, he’s actually striking out a tad less. So, is Rios worth owning? It’s hard to tell, and judging by his 54 percent ownership rate in Yahoo! leagues right now, most people are confused as well.

My advice: Take a chance on him if you have a free outfield bench spot. Rios isn’t someone I’m committing to starting all season, but he has all the skills to be a top-50 player during his hot streaks.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox

Sticking with the White Sox, what do we make of Viciedo’s May surge? After batting just .206 with three homers, four RBI and an abysmal 18-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in April, Viciedo became a completely different player in May, batting .351 with eight homers and 24 RBI. OK, so he wasn’t a completely different player as he struck out 17 times to just three walks last month, but his strikeout rate was still down from 28.1 percent in April to 17.5 percent in May.

Viciedo’s average is an anomaly, but the power is completely legit. He’s currently owned in 64 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so people seem to be buying in. Like Rios, he’s someone I’d suggest owning, but he’s more befitting a bench player you start during hot stretches.

My advice: Keep on starting him, but see what you can get for him in a trade.

Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox

Middlebrooks is one of the hardest players to gauge right now for a number of reasons. How much will he play now that Kevin Youkilis is back? Can he keep the hot start going? He was flashing some serious long-ball potential in the minors before getting the call this season, so I’m not at all surprised to see he has six homers in his first 26 games, but his 27.4 percent strikeout rate (and his 3.8 percent walk rate) paint the portrait of a .270 hitter. Instead, Middlebrooks is sitting at .316 thanks to a .400 BABIP.

There are conflicting reports surrounding the Sox shopping Youkilis, but with the team facing a rash of injuries to major offensive cogs and their surprising ascension in the AL East standings, I have a hard time imagining the organization trading one of their most proven, albeit injury prone, players.

My advice: I feel like a broken record here, but I’d look to trade Middlebrooks unless your team is in need of power. Should playing time become readily available in the second half of the seasons, Middlebrooks should be among the leaders in homers among third basemen.

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