Detroit Tigers: Alex Avila has been baseball’s best offensive catcher in 2017, should be All-Star

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May 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (31) celebrates with teammates after he hits a home run in the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (31) celebrates with teammates after he hits a home run in the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
May 20, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Alex Avila (31) hits a single in the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila has enjoyed a strong season in his return to the Motor City. To put it simply, the veteran has been baseball’s best offensive catcher in 2017.

Detroit Tigers fans have seen Alex Avila thrive at the plate before.

There was the 2011 season when he notched a 4.6 WAR to go along with a 140 wRC+, a .211 ISO, a .384 wOBA, a .295 batting average, a 13.2 walk percentage and a .895 OPS.

Those were stellar numbers for a player who also added 82 RBI, 63 runs scored, 33 doubles, 19 home runs, four triples and three stolen bases.

However, the catcher struggled to find the same form in the years that followed.

His wRC+ never eclipsed 104, while he turned in a combined .699 OPS from 2012 to 2016 in four seasons with the Tigers and one with the Chicago White Sox.

However, this season, Avila is blowing all of his previous career-best numbers out of the water.

Through 34 games in his return to Detroit, the backstop has turned in a 178 wRC+, and a .266 ISO. Additionally, he’s chipped in with a .435 wOBA, a .319 batting average and a 1.029 OPS.

Sure, some of Avila’s production can be chalked up to a .453 BABIP, but the catcher is getting on base via the walk at an excellent rate.

His 18.3 walk percentage would tie a personal best if it holds.

What’s more, the catcher’s number percentage in the category leads all Major League catchers with at least 110 plate appearances. The next closest is Russell Martin with 16.4 percent.

Walk percentage isn’t the only stat that Avila sits atop or near the top of in terms of the statistical leaderboard among catchers.

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