Detroit Tigers: 5 Players that will not be back in 2016 (VIDEO)
Aug 16, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
We all thought we had a bonafide star catcher in the making with Alex Avila, a young and dominant catcher plucked from within the organization for the first time since Lance Parrish came on the scene in the late 1970’s.
Avila’s first full season was 2010, and he struggled a bit to adapt to the big leagues on a team that underacheived and finished at .500, the last Detroit Tigers team to miss the postseason until this year’s squad. But it was 2011 that helped him burst on the scene.
He earned praise for his masterful handling of a star-studded pitching staff throughout most of his time here, particularly in 2011 when he caught Justin Verlander‘s second career no-hitter and helped the Tigers march their way to their first divisional title in 24 years.
That season he went to the All-Star Game, earned a Silver Slugger Award, hit .295 with a .895 OPS and 19 homers. Sadly, those numbers were never touched after that.
Alex has suffered a number of concussions that had many worrying about his future in the game. This year, he missed an extensive amount of time due to a knee issue. After he came back, his playing time has been limited. He did get some action at first base during Miguel Cabrera’s absence, but rarely sees time at catcher with James McCann and Bryan Holaday in the mix.
Tigers’ fans have a knack of hating on Avila. Certainly his .176 average this year is not good enough to crack the lineup more than perhaps once a week at this point, however he has always been a good defensive catcher and takes a beating behind the plate yet still comes back the next day for more punishment.
When his father was given the GM role last month, many immediately began crying “nepotism” and figured that Alex would soon get a four-year contract extension. These same fans said that Avila was always given a benefit because of his father’s high role in the Tigers’ organization. Something that has been proven to be incorrect since Al never wanted the Tigers to draft Alex in the first place because he knew how it would always be “awkward.”
Yet if you followed this team closely, nothing has changed in regards to Avila. The plan has always been to let him go this off-season as an unrestricted free agent with McCann as the catcher of the Detroit Tigers’ future. In fact they tried shopping him around baseball last year, but the worries about his concussions kept interest to a bare minimum.
This did not change in the Dave Dombrowski to Al Avila transition despite what some nepotism crying fans believe.