Game 16: Alex Avila, still slogging

It probably wasn’t a good sign of Alex Avila’s season to date that making contact over four plate appearances was considered a good sign, the ground-rule double he crushed to right-center field notwithstanding.

It probably wasn’t a good sign, either, that he did it from the eighth spot in order, even if it was against a left-hander. At this point, balancing out the lineup has taken a back seat to the urgency of getting productive hitters up in RBI situations.

The fact remains, though, that the Tigers desperately need a productive Avila in the lineup to balance it out.

“We’ve got to get Alex going,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

They need to, in part because they don’t have many other left-handed hitters to put in the lineup on an everyday basis, and in part because they don’t have another catcher who can take on the responsibility that he does.

That still doesn’t make it any easier to watch 21 strikeouts over 43 plate appearances, the ratio Avila had going into Monday’s game against the White Sox. But it puts a little bit of context into why the Tigers keep playing him.

Ausmus came to his defense strongly on Monday.

“There’s no question that the game-calling is maybe the single most important thing in the game of baseball,” Ausmus said. “If sabermetricians could put a statistic on someone who was good at calling pitches, we’d see catchers going into arbitration and making millions on the way they called pitches. You just can’t put a number on it.

“I have a lot [of responsibility] to Alex. I know he does a good job calling pitches and managing the game. Since that is the most important part of baseball, that would certainly give him more leeway with that. Now there is always that line where the balance tips one way or the other, but right now, for me, his game-calling supersedes what he’s done with the bat.”

Avila is doing his part to try to keep that balance in his favor. He’s seeing the ball well, but not hitting it often enough when does.

“It’s a matter of making contact and having the ball get in the hole somewhere,” Avila said. “For the most part, I’ve been having good at-bats. I’ve had some bad at-bats as well. But for the most part, I’ve been having good at-bats, seeing the ball pretty decently. Sometimes, they’re not going to go as planned every single time.

“You can’t get down about it. You can’t feel sorry about it. You just have to keep playing.”

The numbers suggest he’s doing that. Despite the struggles, he has drawn six walks in 47 plate appearances. His batting average on balls put in play (BABIP) stood at .400. He’s swinging at less than 20 percent of pitches outside the strike zone for the first time in his career, according to Fangraphs.com. Yet he’s still not connecting with his swings at a good rate, and the contact rate down all around.

His contact rate was solid on Friday, but he hit his first two pitches right into the heart of the shift on the right side.

10 Comments

They need Alex going or Miggy get out of slump.

Sabermetricians? fWAR: minus 0.2 bWAR 0.1
414 Babip means he has been lucky. Once he regress he will be under the Inge-Raburn line
With Avila 3.38 ERA with Peña 3.76 but 3.17 and 3.14 SO/BB
If the rotation is successful thanks to Avila, it is the bullpen failure to blame on him too?
He is not among top 10 in getting calls out of the zone neither bottom 10
McCarver and Perez made a career on the attachment to them of an Ace but the full rotation?
Positional bias

Alex is a problem for sure, but we aren’t getting anything more or less out of him than we have for the better part of 2 years with occasional hitting streaks. My problem is with the “Big Guy” himself and Torii they need to figure it out and fast. Miguel didn’t even hit this bad when he was hurt last year, they were just singles. Heck I’d take the singles right now.
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I’m bored guys…they are boring

My golf league started last night and the place we went after did not have the game on, so missed all but the last inning – from what I can see we had a ton of guys on base and did nothing about it.

You got it, Tiger Girl. Pretty sure Brad wants to show complete confidence in his starting lineup, but maybe Kins could have used a night off and Jackson, also. No comment re Alex as Dan & Jim defend him to the death. It’s not like we don’t want our players to succeed.
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When Kaline was interviewed on the radio he mentioned that just throwing to each other in the OF was not enough as far as practice. Players need to be able to throw accurately to the cut off guys in game ready situations.

It was worth the price of admission just to watch Kaline pregame practicing his throws from the RF corner to 3rdbase. Different game back then.

I have said it before, the OF is a huge problem. Hunter career is nearing the end. Davis cant field ( he is a Berry that makes contact against LHP). The OF is again Jackson forced to cover for the rest.

Rajai’s arm is not the best, but what he brings to the lineup more than compensates. I love him in the starting lineup. He has made some very good plays anld some poor ones, but he got on base last night and no one could knock him in. There were spots where someone could have bunted, but they didn’t try.

” Despite the struggles, he has drawn six walks in 47 plate appearances. His batting average on balls put in play (BABIP) stood at .400.” – I thought the .400 was a typo, as it seemed counter to the point I perceived was being made. El T is right, .400 BABIP means he isn’t coming around but simply getting lucky.
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With that said, even a guy who is slow on the base paths, isn’t playing good defense and only contributes when he is getting lucky….is still 1 man. But if Alex truly is the reason for our pitching dominance, then he is contributing against all 9 of the opposing batters.

It seems to me that Alex is swinging from his waist up. Don’t you think he should step into the pitch and use his legs? I also think Miggy is not fully recovered yet. Maybe physicaly yes. But after a opperation like that it can work on your mind.

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