2014 Player Previews: C Alex Avila

The year 2014 is here, pitchers and catchers reporting is just six weeks away, and so, it's time to start looking ahead at what's expected to be the 25 members of the Tigers' Opening Day roster. We start the series with a look at the club's starting catcher, Alex Avila.

2013 In Review

2013 Alex Avila Stats
Detroit 379 0.6 .310 .227 .305 .368 .317 .376 30% 0/0 -4 -3.3

It wasn't a great year from Alex Avila, as he struggled mightily out of the gate offensively, ceding some playing time behind the dish to Brayan Pena, and finishing with just a 0.6 WAR. More notably than that, while defensive numbers for catchers are directional at best, Avila's negative defensive value and negative defensive runs saved aren't an encouraging sign, though that overlooks the fact that he guided the best starting rotation in baseball.

While Avila didn't hit a ton, he did have a few incredibly clutch home runs, including a game winner in Houston, and a game-tying blast in Cleveland that kicked off the series where the Tigers would distance themselves from the Indians. So, while he wasn't overly productive all year, he had his moments.

One interesting trend to note on Avila was that his xBAbip (expected average on balls in play) was more than 60 points higher than his actual number. For his career, he's at .320, so his average likely was deflated a bit, and there could be some optimism for a rebound season.

2014 Player Projections

2014 Alex Avila Projections
Service PA WAR BA BAbip OBP SLG wOBA D-Val
ZiPS 455 2.4 .237 .311 .340 .397 .325 -3
Steamer 424 2.5 .246 .312 .345 .412 .334 5.5
Oliver 600 2.6 .229 .301 .324 .381 .315 9.7

Despite Avila's struggles last season, the Tigers allowed Pena to leave via free agency, and will be relying on a relatively unproven backup in Bryan Holaday. Expect Avila to be the most-days catcher, getting more than 102 games, as he did in 2013. However, if his struggles continue at the plate, Holaday will likely be given more opportunity, and of course, top prospect James McCann will be waiting in the wings as a perfect platoon complement to Avila.

The projections are all relatively consistent on Avila's value next season, though they're a bit mixed at how he will get there. All expect him to contribute about 2.5 wins above replacement, a solid number for a most-days catcher, and in line with his 2012 performance. The Oliver projections have more of his contribution coming from his defense, without an expectation of a rebound offensively, while both ZiPS and Steamer see his wOBA jumping 15-25 points from 2013. If the offensive projections hold, which is a reasonable expectation given the deflated BAbip in 2013, that will help compensate for the loss of Prince Fielder in the middle of the order.

2014 Projections come from three different sources; ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver, all publicly available via FanGraphs.com and presented for information purposes only. ZiPS projections come from Dan Szymborski, Steamer from Steamer Projections, a trio of independent academic researchers, and Oliver Projections from Brian Cartwright.

MadFriars Top Stories