Alex Avila | Catcher | #13
2014 salary: $4.35 million (plus option for 2015)
2013 statistics: .227/.317/.376/.736, 11 HR, 14 2B, 1 3B, 44 BB, 112 K
Projected role: Starting catcher
Alex Avila is a potential rebound candidate for the 2014 season. After a very rough start to the 2013 campaign in which Avila put up a .177/.279/.293 triple slash prior to the All Star break, the Tigers’ backstop picked it up in the second half. He posted a .303/.376/.500 triple slash in the second half, thanks in part to a very solid month of September.
There are two burning questions when it comes to Avila: 1.) Can he stay healthy and 2.) which Avila will we get? Will we get the Avila who showed flashes of his All-Star form down the stretch, or will we get more of the Avila who often looked like he couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag?
There are no questions when it comes to Avila’s defense. He is well regarded as a defensive catcher, and his pitches love throwing to him. Avila had his struggles behind the plate last season, but he does carry with him a solid defensive reputation. He’s also thought of as a good pitch framer, someone who gets non-strikes called as strikes for his pitching staff.
Avila probably won’t get back to his 2011 form, and a lot of fans will hold that against him as they have ever since he failed to repeat the feat in 2012. We really need to put that year in its proper place: it was a career year and one that Avila will most likely not repeat.
There we go. Can we move on now?
A .250/.350/.420 triple slash is right around Avila’s career average, seems reasonably attainable, and more than respectable, especially when you factor in the value Avila brings behind the plate. If he can stay healthy—and the new experimental catcher collision rules can only help someone like Avila, who takes a fair amount of abuse—he should be able to improve on his mostly dismal 2013 season.
Avila’s not going to hit .300 and slug 20+ homers. Put that out of your mind. If you can accept that he’ll hit between 10 to 15 homers, bat around .250, take lots of walks, strike out a fair amount, and lead a pretty decent rotation, you’ll be happier for it.