Mike Fast has an article at Baseball Prospectus about framing pitches, he breaks it down by the numbers of who is good, who is bad and what makes good catchers good and bad catchers bad. He even has gifs of good and bad technique. The Upshot of the article: Alex Avila is very good, and Gerald Laird was very bad.
According to Fast's numbers Avila is the second best catcher this year at 16 runs saved, just behind the leader Jonathan Lucroy at 17 runs. Avila has also averaged 13 runs/ 120 Games. Avila also saved 9 runs last year while splitting time with Laird.
Laird on the other hand is terrible, he averages -15 runs/120 Games, had -12 runs for us last year and -16 runs for us in 2009. So much for the whole "At least Laird is a great defensive catcher" crap.
If we look at this year which is Avila's first full time year and 2009 which was Laird last full time year we see that its a 32 run swing. 32 runs is .1975 runs per game, or to think about what life would have been like with Laird this year, add 0.2 to every pitcher's ERA. Thats huge, and it could be a reason why the Tigers are an impressive 27-15 in one run games.
Its a great article and you guys should check it out, plus its another reason to revel in the awesomeness that is Alex Avila.