Alex Avila was a force at the plate for the Detroit Tigers in 2017, and it earned him the multi-year deal he was looking for. The Arizona Diamondbacks added Avila earlier this week for $8.25 million over two years. They landed themselves a quality backup catcher with a lot of experience who can fill in at first base as well.
For Avila, there has to be some relief to put down roots for a bit after several uncertain years. He consulted with J.D. Martinez about the Diamondbacks organization before taking the deal, no doubt hearing good things. It’s interesting to note that Avila posted 3.6 fWAR in just 585 plate appearances over the past two seasons. While a repeat of his 2017 campaign may be unlikely, it feels like the Diamondbacks did pretty well here.
For the Diamondbacks, Avila replaces outgoing veteran catcher Chris Iannetta, and as a lefty pairs well with starting catcher Jeff Mathis. Avila isn’t the defensive catcher he once was, but it will be interesting to see how his power and high on-base percentage will play in what remains a fairly strong lineup in Arizona. Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs took a deep dive into Avila’s 2017 season, and his extraordinary combination of patience, power and whiffs.
Avila played parts of eight seasons at catcher for the Tigers. You never know, but that’s presumably the end of his time in Detroit. Like most of the players traded away over the past year, he’s an easy guy to root for so we wish him all the best in Phoenix.
Can Miguel Cabrera rebound from injury like Jim Thome did?
Andrew Simon at MLB.com made an interesting comparison in a piece about Miguel Cabrera’s odds of a rebound in 2018. Jim Thome suffered an injury plagued age 34 season as well, and posted below average numbers for the first time in his career. At the same point, their career numbers are quite closely aligned.
Mike Petriello of Statcast posted a piece earlier this offseason arguing that Cabrera was actually pretty unlucky in 2017. However, there are also some concerns out there that Comerica Park’s Statcast readings may be a bit off. We all know what this comes down to in the end. If Cabrera is able to keep his back in shape, he’s going to smash baseballs. That’s probably all the analysis necessary.
MLB Trade Rumors
Alex Avila was the only notable signing on Wednesday as the cold war between free agents and teams continues. There are few rumors, and even the ones that emerge are just weird and uninteresting, like free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer holding out for an eight year deal. The newly traded Brandon Moss has his own theories on why the market has been so cold, and he’s not wrong.
Athletes will try anything once
Stephanie Springer has a great article at The Hardball Times on the pseudoscience of many recent health trends in baseball. While we’re seeing more and more use of procedures like cupping and cryotherapy, the efficacy and best practices for a lot of these trends remain in serious dispute.
Around the horn
Travis Sawchik at FanGraphs has an interesting take on how English Premier League football could hold the key toward spending incentives for owners. Shane Tourtellotte has a piece searching for Jackie Robinon’s perfect comp at The Hardball Times. Baseball Prospectus is doing some really interesting things with their pitch tunneling research. They have updated the data and approach for 2018, and included a cool app where you can see every plate appearance in the game from the visual perspective of the batter.