Detroit Tigers success in 2017 fueled by under-the-radar acquisitions

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Apr 29, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Justin Wilson (38) against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Justin Wilson (38) against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Apr 30, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (31) against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers players have the team in a good place. The team has been playing well as of late, and the run has been fueled by some under-the-radar acquisitions.

Detroit Tigers fans have seen the team’s usual mix of star players produce so far.

Michael Fulmer and Justin Verlander unsurprisingly lead all Detroit pitchers in WAR, while Miguel Cabrera is starting to heat up.

Elsewhere, Justin Upton is off to a strong start, with a 130 wRC+ and a .241 ISO—not to mention a team-leading eight home runs.

However, some of Detroit’s key contributors this season joined the organization in under-the-radar deals.

Sure, the big-money signings of Upton and Victor Martinez will steal all the headlines—so will the trades for established standouts like Ian Kinsler and Francisco Rodriguez—but the under-the-radar acquisitions remain as key players.

Most prominent among the group of players who joined Detroit in a low-key transaction is Alex Avila.

Alex Avila

After spending a season in Chicago with the White Sox, the backstop returned to Detroit this past offseason.

Buried in a catcher’s market that also included Matt Wieters, Wilson Ramos, Wellington Castillo and Jason Castro, Avila signed with the Tigers.

More than a quarter of the way through the season, Detroit is certainly happy with the move.

Avila currently paces all Tigers players with a 1.5 WAR. He’s spent time at both catcher and first, registering some blistering offensive numbers in the process.

In 84 plate appearances, the veteran is batting .382 with a .500 on-base percentage and a .706 slugging percentage. He’s also turned in a .501 wOBA, a 226 wRC+ and a .324 ISO.

Avila’s production, which also includes 18 RBI, 14 walks, 12 extra-base hits and 11 runs scored, has helped offset slow starts from Victor Martinez and Nicholas Castellanos.

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