Catchers usually aren’t among the top offensive performers on a baseball team, and they probably shouldn’t be. They have one of the most important defensive positions in the game, and catchers like Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez and Johnny Bench don’t come around very often.
That said, Alex Avila’s plate approach this year has not been good for the Detroit Tigers. His strikeout rate of 28.5 percent is the highest on his team, and he only has two walks all year to go with his 16 strikeouts. His focus as a hitter should be the same as it has been in the past: he should look to force pitchers to throw more pitches than they would like against him and let the top of the batting order do the dirty work.
Avila’s current on-base percentage of .224 is nowhere near where it needs be for the Tigers to be successful at the bottom of the batting order. To be fair, this is usually a strength of his game, as his career OBP is .354. He topped out in that category at .389 percent in 2011. The Tigers don’t need Avila to hit like he did that year, but they can’t afford to have him strike out at such a high rate.
With players like Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on his team, his goal should be to give those guys the most advantageous hitting situations possible. That entails running the pitch count up as much as possible, and looking to get on base any way he can.
There are a few Tigers who have a pretty good grasp on how to hit the ball the other way. Perhaps they could give Avila a lesson or two.