By: Jeff Riger
Tiger fans, just like any other fan base always have their gripes.
They hated Brandon Inge, they despised Ryan Raburn, some disliked Jim Leyland and most cringe when they see Don Kelly in the lineup. And, now there is a new one; Alex Avila.
Tiger observers have grown tired of Avila starting almost every game while doing very little at the plate.
Going into action Monday evening, Avila is hitting .167 with no homers or RBI. In 36 at bats he has struck out 21 times compared to walking just 6 times and his OPS is a miniscule .508. Although it has been just 12 games, he’s been awful at the plate and people want a change.
Granted, there aren’t that many alternatives.
Bryan Holaday is not an everyday catcher and James McCann isn’t ready to make his major league debut which means Avila will continue to play.
I asked manager Brad Ausmus why exactly Avila continues to play and he expressed how important a catcher calling a good game is.
“The game calling (a catcher calling the game) may be the single most important thing in the game if baseball, calling pitchers,” Ausmus said. “If sabermatrician’s could put a statistic on someone who is good at calling pitches you would see catchers going to arbitration making millions because of the way they call pitches. But, you just can’t put a number on it, because you don’t know the result if a different pitch would have been called.”
Ausmus then continued by saying “Having watched Alex (Avila) I know he does a good job of calling pitches and managing a game and since that is the most important part of baseball, that would certainly give him more leeway with the bat.”
Of course Avila’s poor hitting could reach a level where Ausmus might be forced to make a change.
“There’s that line where the balance tips one way or the other but right now for me his game calling supersedes what he has done with the bat” Ausmus said.
Fans believe the Tigers continue to play Avila because he hit .300 during the last half of last year or that they hope he’ll return to his All Star form of 2011. Some people even believe it’s nepotism and that as long as Al Avila is the assistant General Manager of the team, his son will continue to play.
Ausmus obviously believes differently.
Do you buy what the skipper is selling?
Ausmus also believes the most important thing baseball is a catcher calling a good game. What do you think the most important thing is in the game?