Avila is lone Tigers Silver Slugger winner

Alex Avila missed out on a Gold Glove award. He will gladly take a Silver Slugger instead. The Tigers, too, will take a win over Mike Napoli.

With a big first season as a full-time starting catcher, Avila took the mantle for the American League’s best offensive catcher from the oft-injured Joe Mauer. The All-Star beat out Napoli, Matt Wieters and others to earn the Silver Slugger award at his position, the only Tiger to do so this season.

Avila is the first Tiger to win the Silver Slugger at catcher since 2004, Ivan Rodriguez’s first season in Detroit. He’s the first catcher other than Mauer to win the honor since 2007, when Jorge Posada won it.

“To be considered the best offensive catcher is great,” Avila told MLB.com Wednesday night in a text message, “and it’s an achievement I’m very proud of.”

It wasn’t necessarily an easy decision for AL managers and coaches. Though Avila earned the All-Star start at catcher on his first-half roll, and never had the huge falloff that some might have expected, he also had to deal with catchers who heated up down the stretch. None got hotter than Napoli, who hit .383 with 18 home runs and 42 RBIs after the All-Star, including .429 with eight homers in September. Though Napoli made just 57 starts behind the plate, he played there more than he did at any other position.

Wieters, who beat out Avila for the Gold Glove as announced Tuesday night, also made his case based on power. He homered 12 times in August and September and posted an .840 OPS over the season’s second half.

In the end, though, nobody showed the consistency that Avila displayed, surprisingly so for a 24-year-old dealing with the wear and tear of more starts than any other AL catcher. He actually built on his first-half numbers by hitting for a higher average, near-identical slugging percentage and a higher OPS after the break.

Avila, ironically, is a friend of Napoli.

“We’re from the same area in south Florida,” Avila said, “and he had a great season, but it doesn’t make it any better. Being a Silver Slugger is pretty good on its own.”

Tiger catchers have won 10 of the 32 Silver Sluggers since the award began in 1980. Half of those went to Lance Parrish, who added a sixth as an Angel in 1990. Rodriguez, Mickey Tettleton and Matt Nokes also won at least one Silver Slugger in a Detroit uniform.

Detroit had three other realistic candidates for Silver Sluggers, but all lost out in what looked like crowded fields and tough decisions for managers and coaches. While reigning Silver Slugger first baseman Miguel Cabrera won a batting title with a late-season tear, it came too late to sway voters to choose him over Adrian Gonzalez.

Jhonny Peralta led all AL shortstops in batting average and OPS, but his former teammate in Cleveland, Asdrubal Cabrera, had the advantage in hits, RBIs and runs scored. That earned Cabrera the vote, making him the first Indian to win a Silver Slugger since Grady Sizemore in 2008 and the first Cleveland infielder since Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar in 2000.

Though designated hitter isn’t a defensive position, it’s a Silver Slugger award, and it pitted Victor Martinez against former Red Sox teammate David Ortiz this year. Martinez had the higher batting average, finishing fourth in the league at .330, but Ortiz had better run production numbers to win his fifth Silver Slugger at DH. Those two will likely have a similar competition going when AL media members vote for the outstanding DH award.

4 Comments

i’ve been looking for quite some time for what the tigers owe in deferred contracts in the foreseeable future. For example, i believe Sheff is getting money through 2019 and i’m not sure how much longer pudge is getting money and god knows who else. Anyhow, is there any way to tell, for example, how much in deferred money we will spend in 2013? anyone know?

Cots’s Contracts shows shows the contracts for every player and team in MLB including any monies owed to former players and projected for several years. The Tigers don’t owe any money for former players heading into 2012.

I’m disgusted Miggy didn’t get a SS. But, congrats to to Alex. Well deserved.

Congratulations to Alex on a well deserved award.

Cabrera got hosed! Highway robbery! Miggy had a better batting average, better on base percentage, better slugging percentage, better OPS, more runs, more home runs, more doubles, more walks, more everything but RBI than Gonzalez. He should have won the silver slugger over A Gone in a cake walk. If it’s because the ballots were cast before the season was over, then they need to not let people vote until the season is over.

I can see Asdrubal getting the award for shortstop, but Jhonny still had a better overall OPS.

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