When Dave Dombrowski announced that the team would be parting ways with the colorful Brayan Pena after the 2013 season, many fans were perplexed. Pena enjoyed playing in Detroit, engaged fans on Twitter (remember NERTS), and was coming off the best season of his career with a batting average near .300.
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Nonetheless, the Detroit Tigers were ready to move forward with a young backup for Alex Avila, handing the job to Bryan Holaday. The 26-year-old had spent 22 games in the majors in 2012 and 2013, launching a homer in 16 games.
Holaday had an up and down season and we don’t mean that it was a roller coaster, up and down season. He was up at the start and down at the end. There was no middle ground in his rookie year, thus his slightly below average grade of C-.
Throughout the first half of the season, Holaday shined offensively whenever he played, causing fans to call for Bryan to supplant Alex full-time behind the plate. His average hit the high-water mark of .310 on June 16, but began a sharp decline after that. From June 29 to August 19, Holaday collected just four hits in a stretch spanning 15 games and 45 at-bats.
His cold streak lasted until the end of the season, causing the average to dip over 80 points, finishing at .231 average with a .542 OPS, 15 RBIs and no homers. Even more troubling was his absolute inability to hit left handed hitters (.151 avg., .379 OPS). Contrast that with Avila’s horrendous stats against lefties (.226 and .589 OPS) and you have a very weak hitting backstop duo in Detroit.
Interesting enough, Holaday had an identical fielding percentage as Avila (.993), but was far worse at throwing out would-be base stealers (27 to 34%).
Holaday figures to have a battle for backup catcher in Lakeland this coming February. Tigers’ fans have been clamoring for James McCann to not only make the team, many also want him to take over Avila’s job. Fans were mighty irritated when Brad Ausmus refused to give the youngster much playing time after his September call-up.
McCann hit .295 with 34 doubles, 7 homers, and 54 RBIs in Toledo in 2014. He posted a .993 fielding percentage and caught an 42 percent of would-be base stealers. Additionally, he hits lefties fairly well.