Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The case for much-maligned Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila

Is there a large segment of Tigers' fans who have been overly critical of catcher Alex Avila? With due respect, I believe so.
Alex Avila: OPS has been good
Avila doesn't a good batting average (.238 currently), but he has a good OPS (on base plus slugging percentage), which is more important. It is .773  this season, well above the MLB average of .707. He has a career OPS of .769, also well above the MLB average over that period. Even last season, when he slumped horribly during the first half , Avila ended the year with a .698 OPS (Avila draws walks. His power is streaky, but he does hit his share of home runs. He is also left-handed hitter on a club lacking them.
The Avila detractors I've talked on my radio show (and they call consistently after Tigers' games) invariably say he is overrated defensively. But I think it is fair to suggest Avila is solid defensively. Like most catchers he is dependent on his pitchers holding base runners well. He is a good receiver. He seems to have a good rapport with his pitching staff.
Avila has hit poorly in the postseason, but he has had a bearing on some of the series the Tigers won defensively (particularly vs. Oakland in '12).
While Avila may not be a "strength" for the Tigers in the sense of their star-caliber players, I don't see him as a "weakness," either, especially considering the dearth of quality catching in MLB.

My column. A thin line between settling and spoiled for Detroit fans:



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