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Can 2014 be the year of Alex Avila for the Detroit Tigers?

Hi, I’m Josie, lifelong baseball fan and full on Tigers junkie. I was lucky enough to spend a few nights a week at Tiger Stadium during my formative years and now I bleed Tigers baseball. While the team has made me cry and scream more often than smile and cheer, I’m hooked and wouldn’t have it any other way. History indicates I could be setting myself up for yet more heartbreak, but I’m very optimistic about the 2014 Detroit Tigers. One of the main reasons for my happy thoughts is the possible, even probable, resurgence of Alex Avila.

In looking at Avila’s career numbers, especially focusing on the second half of the 2013 season, one has to conclude that the abysmal numbers he put up in the first half of 2013 both at and behind the plate were not much more than a fluke.

Avila has always been an above average performer defensively. Putting aside his stellar relationship with the pitching staff, his ability to communicate with them, and his game calling abilities, Avila can be counted on to stop runners. He had the highest percentage of runners caught stealing (%RCS) in the league in 2012(30%) and that was actually lower than the 32% he caught in 2011. His %RCS in 2013 was 17%. With such a drastic and dramatic decline, I have to think that wear and tear and his injuries were weighing on him more than he admitted.

I also have to conclude that if Avila can come into Spring Training healthy, and somehow lessen the beating he takes daily, we’ll see a return to form in throwing runners out. Bryan Holaday could help here. If he performs at or above expectation, Avila could get more rest than in previous seasons and have a better shot at staying healthy. The improved middle infield could also be a big help, with Jose Iglesias bringing the possibility to make great plays and get outs that many other players wouldn’t be able to get.

Offensively, when you look at Avila’s full 2013 season numbers it is easy to be pessimistic. .227/.317/.420 is nothing to write home about. However, breaking the season down into pre and post All Star Game segments presents a different story all together.   While Avila’s first half numbers are undoubtedly bleak (.177/.289/.293), his second half numbers are nothing short of stellar. Avila batted .303 from the ASG on, with a batting average of .343 in the month of September. His OBP jumped to .376 while his SLG soared up to .500. If the post ASG turnaround is any indication, and it well should be, Tigers fans can expect a much more lively bat from Avila in 2014.

Avila has the ability to help fill the hole in the power game left by Fielder and Peralta, if he can stay physically healthy and mentally tough. With the hiring of Ausmus, I’m expecting a return to form defensively with a high likelihood of even better numbers coming from behind the plate than we’ve seen from Avila.

All told, 2014 may just be a banner year for Avila, and if that happens, my outlook gets just a little bit sunnier.

Tags: Alex Avila Detroit Tigers

  • JW

    Ah, I get it. This email is an April Fool’s joke. I don’t even want to get started on Avila. He barely has a pulse defensively minus his comradery with the pitching staff. His offense is absolutely horrendous. If it weren’t for Daddy working as a high ranking exec, he’d likely have spent most of his time in Toledo or anyplace other than on the Tiger roster.
    As for the Tigers making you cry and scream more than happy, you are way too spoiled by their success.
    3 MVP’s
    2 CY Young Awards
    1 Triple Crown Winner
    2 World Series Appearances
    4 ALCS Series Appearances
    An owner who drops an absurd amount of cash into the team’s success.
    Really? It’s that agonizing being a Tiger supporter?

    • Josie Parnell

      Oh, awesome! I love dissenting opinions(no sarcasm, respectful debate is one of my favorite hobbies)!

      You are definitely entitled to your opinion about Avila, and I can honestly see your point. I just tend to be a glass half full kind of girl and I do truly think Avila has the talent to break out. If you look at his defensive stats prior to last year, you will see that he’s been an above average defensive catcher through his career, last year being the anomaly.

      As far as me being a spoiled fan, anyone who is a fan of an Ilitch owned franchise is bound to be a little spoiled, sure. I will say, to address all the awards you outlined, that I have been a Tigers fan for FAR longer than the last 5-6 seasons of the Tigers’ resurgence. And the most important award of all is missing from your list, a World Series Championship. I’m 31 years old and have been a fan since I was 9, so you can do the math. I was 10 months old when the Tigs won last, I don’t think it’s spoiled of me to want a Championship. And in the grand scheme of my baseball fandom, there have been WAY more tears than laughs. I do want to say that I wasn’t trying to complain, just stating that I’ve been through the ringer with the team, and after the many years of bad teams, I want this team, which I think is great and has all the potential in the world, to take the next step and win the World Series. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it!

      • Tim OConnor

        You go, girl!!! Very nice to have differing opinions put forth in a respectful way, something that is FAR too often lacking on these posting sites. And I think I agree with you. Dropping from throwing out over 30% of basestealers down to 17% is beyond radical. I, too, expect at least some sort of bounce back. Also, clearly something clicked for Alex at the plate after the ASG last year. As you pointed out, his second half numbers were STELLAR!

        On, I and never for a second believed that the Tigers have hung in with Avila because his father works in the front office. These guys (Dombrowski/Avila Sr.) did not get to where they are by embracing something so foolhardy as nepotism. Of course, that’s just my $0.02, which is about all it’s worth. Good day to you all, people!!

  • JW

    I love to talk or debate sports and could do it endlessly. I have a few years on you and totally understand where you are coming from regarding the championship desire. I was fortunate enough to attend 2 games in the 84 World Series with my Dad which of course the Tigers won.
    As for Alex, I would love for him to blow up this season and have a monster year. I’m simply skeptical.