It’s weird to praise a hitter who is still hitting below .200, but Alex Avila deserves it.
Hitting .250 in July and .310 since the All-Star Break, the Detroit Tigers catcher is also hitting .500 with men in scoring position and is now tied with Miguel Cabrera with 17 RBIs for the month. That’s not even bringing up the two home runs he has hit in the last two days, one of which was a majestic grand slam off Stephen Strasburg that may still be circling around Detroit.
You know you are always going to get solid defense and smart game-calling from Avila. Pitchers love having him behind the plate and they easily can find a rhythm with the 26-year-old, making him the preferred catcher of every pitcher on the roster.
However the bat had been so bad that it overshadowed the defense. Fans were beginning to wonder if a randomly-selected ticket-holder would be better off having a go in Avila’s spot in the batting order rather than see him swing and miss at three pitches in the dirt. That’s all changed now.
Avila is clearly confident at the plate now; he is taking balls and swinging at strikes. While that seems simple, it’s easy for a batter to take themselves out of balance and out of at-bats mentally when they’re in a slump. Avila is guessing correctly now and getting himself in counts where he can sit back and wait for fastballs, which he has always had a great ability at getting in front of and crushing.
With his hitting of late, it’s no wonder why the Tigers have been one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break. If he continues to keep hitting like he is, the Tigers have to like their chances of playing deep into October again this season.