Sep 6, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcherJames McCann
(34) at bat against the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Avila is easily one of the most polarizing players on the Detroit Tigers’ roster. Many fans called for the Tigers top catching prospect, James McCann, to be called up and get regular playing time. Those fans well get their wish this season as McCann should start the season with the Tigers and get regular playing time against right handed pitching.
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Against right handed pitching, I fully believe Alex Avila should bat second for the Detroit Tigers. Against left handed pitching however, McCann, not Avila, should get the regular reps.
In 66 games against left handed pitching in 2014, McCann had a .336/.396/.469 split with 12 walks and 21 strikeouts. Against right handed pitching, his split was .276/.316/.406 with 13 walks and 71 strikeouts in 102 games. Avila’s split against right handed pitching in 2014 was .215/.340/.380. It is obvious that McCann sees the ball out of the lefty’s hand rather than the righty’s by the walks to strikeout breakdown.
An interesting note is that all of McCann’s 7 home runs in 2014 were against right handed pitching. It will also be interesting to see how McCann makes his transition from AAA to the Major Leagues. In 12 at bats with the Tigers in 2014, McCann went 3 for 12 with one double, 2 strikeouts, and a steal. McCann will not only have to get used to hitting against new pitching, but also catching new pitchers. Some players adjust, while others struggle when the “see the big buildings” as Jim Price says.
In 2016, the job seems to be McCann’s, but for 2015, the Tigers will start by turning to Avila. If Avila continues to have injury problems or has a deep regression in his OBP, the Tigers could turn to McCann more and more, much like they turned to J.D. Martinez in 2014. For now, the Tigers should stick with Avila, but McCann will get his shot in 2015.