Remembering Alex Avila’s greatest Detroit Tigers moments

DETROIT, MI - Catcher Alex Avila during game two of a doubleheader. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - Catcher Alex Avila during game two of a doubleheader. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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Alex Avila will retire after 13 years; most of it spent with the Detroit Tigers

Longtime Detroit Tigers catcher and son of GM Al, Alex Avila announced he will be retiring after the season, according to multiple reports. The left-handed-hitting backstop is with the Washington Nationals this season, putting together a .179./.347/..333 line across 29 games.

Avila dealt with a calf injury as well as a ‘COVID-19-related’ stint which kept him out for essentially the entire months of July and August. Despite his low batting average and limited playing time, though, Avila was able to amass a 0.7 bWAR, at least in part thanks to his perennially strong on-base numbers.

Avila spent 8 of his 13 years with the Detroit Tigers, amassing moments unforgettable to fans who were able to witness those excellent teams from 2009-2015. Perhaps his greatest campaign in a Detroit Tigers uniform came in 2011 for his age-24 season, where he was an all-star and finished 12th in the MVP voting while also bringing home a Silver Slugger award.

During that year, Avila slashed .295/.389/.506 with 19 home runs, 82 RBI, and a 5.1 bWAR across 141 games.

2016 was spent with the Chicago White Sox before signing with Detroit for a one-year deal in 2017. He would appear in 77 games before getting traded to the Chicago Cubs with reliever Justin Wilson in exchange for Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes.

Avila then spent two years in Arizona where he would hit .184/.324/.358 for the Diamondbacks across 143 games. The shortened 2020 year brought Avila back to the AL Central where he’d post similar numbers for the Minnesota Twins before rounding out his career in Washington.

Avila, in many ways, was ahead of his time—a time in which on-base percentage numbers still weren’t fully appreciated or embraced by the general public. A time where framing and sequencing were completely overlooked, and a time where batting average was all-too-often pimped as a be-all-end-all stat for the success of a player.

For those reasons, Alex Avila was likely under-appreciated during his time with the Detroit Tigers. We look back fondly at his top five greatest moments in a Detroit Tigers uniform.