Is it a coincidence that the Detroit Tigers went 5-0 in games in which Alex Avila played last week?
Of course it is, yes, but Avila’s resurgence at the plate has certainly helped the team massively (see: Friday’s ninth inning home run). Avila, who entered the week with a .490 OPS, has (hopefully) begun to turn things around at the plate. In his five games (21 plate appearances), Avila has posted a slash line of .278/.381/.667 (1.048 OPS).
He’s still had too much trouble striking out — he whiffed in 33% of his plate appearances this week, 30% on the season — but he’s started to put some better swings on the ball.
2011 may end up being the best season Avila ever has at the plate, but even if he can’t ever repeat those numbers — and I think we should stop expecting him to — he can still be an extremely valuable hitter. Our high expectations for him have clouded our perception of his true value, but if he can keep his OPS even close to .750 — around league average for hitters of any positino — he would be one of the better hitters in the league.
His season line isn’t where we want it to be — hopefully some of the struggles will be corrected as his BABIP trends north from its current .231 — but we’ve seen the signs lately that he’s not a completely broken hitter. Much of this comes from the recent stretch, but if we go back over his last ten games we find he’s hit for a .791 OPS. Nothing wrong with that.
Obviously these trends need to continue in order for Alex to truly be a valuable bat in the Tigers’ lineup — and right now we have nothing more on the season than cherry picking endpoints — but hopefully we have indications that Avila is about to break out.