Coming into the 2014 season, many were hoping that Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila could once again resemble the All-Star performer he was back in 2011. However, the Avila that has been on display thus far has more closely resembled the Avila of 2012-13, which is a guy who hits in the .225-.245 range with a strikeout rate hovering around the 30 percent mark.
To be exact, Avila is currently slashing .228/.346/.379 with six home runs, 19 RBIs and 79 strikeouts in 244 plate appearances with six games left to play in the first half. Yes, the .346 on-base percentage is solid, but most of his other numbers are not quite cutting it. There is, however, some evidence to suggest that the Tigers might see a spike in Avila’s production in the second half.
Avila is a lifetime .273 hitter in the second half compared to a career .234 hitter in the first half. Furthermore, just last season, Avila was slashing an abysmal .177/.279/.293 in the first half, but then he put up a line of .303/.376/.500 in the second half, making his numbers on the season look a little more respectable. If Avila can put up another solid second half in 2014, it would help the Tigers’ offense immensely.
In spite of his hitting woes this season, Avila is still the second-best left-handed hitter on the right-handed heavy Tigers’ current 25-man roster, trailing only the switch-hitting Victor Martinez. Left-handed outfielder Andy Dirks is expected to rejoin the team sometime in the near future, but it is tough to know what to expect from him upon his return. Moreover, Martinez is currently out with a day-to-day injury, which could potentially be very troublesome for the Tigers as he is the team’s only truly solid left-handed hitter.
Therefore, due to the fact that the Tigers have so few left-handed sticks, an uptick in production from Avila in the second half would be an incredibly welcome sight. Don Kelly and Andrew Romine are unlikely to give the team the left-handed firepower they have sorely been lacking, but Avila has the potential to be a better player than what he has shown so far in 2014.