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« Braves Add Free-Swinging Juan Francisco | Main | Chasing King Felix's Changeup »

Mike Aviles Wins the Shortstop Battle

While most people around Red Sox nation want to see Jose Iglesias flash the leather at shortstop on opening day in Detroit, Mike Aviles has worked his way into the spot as the Red Sox starter. After breaking in with the Kansas City Royals in 2008, Aviles had a strong season at the plate, putting up a .325/.354/.480 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line over 102 games, while playing mostly as the starting shortstop and coming in fourth in the American League Rookie of the League award race. 

Sadly, his next season was marred by injury and underperformance. While playing in only 36 games, his stat line dropped to .183/.208/.250. This drop in production could have fueled the notion that he was not fit to be an everyday shortstop in the Major Leagues, but after struggling through 2009, he managed another season with over 100 games played in 2010 and boosted his averages to .304/.335/.413.

In 2011, Aviles was replaced at shortstop by Alcides Escobar after the team acquired him from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal. This limited him to 83 games spread around the field, and the added pressure of playing all over the infield with no guarantee of whether or not he would play dropped his averages to .255/.289/.409. 

The trend here is clear; when Aviles has played over 100 games in a season, he has managed to hit over .300, a solid benchmark for a good hitter in Major League Baseball. This trend can be attributed to making adjustments over the course of a season and hitting pitches that are in the zone at a consistent rate.

Aviles Average in 2008Aviles Average in 2010

The two hot zones above show Aviles’ batting average over the course of seasons in which he managed to play in at least 100 games, while below are the seasons in which he did not.

Aviles Average 2009Aviles Average 2011

This spring, the Red Sox utility man has been ripping the ball, which helped the Red Sox organization make their decision to send down their shortstop of the future. While he has never been much of a power hitter, boasting a career Isolated Power average of .131, but just getting the ball in play in a loaded Red Sox lineup will produce runs while the rest of the hitters in front of him are on base. Hopefully, the comfort of knowing he has locked down an everyday position will let him settle in and continue to hit well.

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