Is Mike Aviles a Keeper?

It may seem like I’ve been writing about Mike Aviles forever. Two years ago, I compared him to Kevin Maas during Aviles’ rookie year and recommended that people pass on him in 2009 drafts (and, as an aside, I predicted that year that Matt LaPorta may struggle a little more than expected, but the jury should remain out on the Indians slugger). In the preseason this year, I talked him up as a possible starter on that Royal middle infield, and then about six weeks ago, I pointed at him during his great September (.357/.379/.612). If you picked him up after that waiver wire piece, you enjoyed two of his eight home runs and six of his 14 stolen bases, so kudos. You might say Aviles has been better to me than could be expected of a mediocre second baseman.

Hold that though. Is he actually mediocre? User Bas made some interesting points in his favor in the comments section of the Second Base Keeper Rankings. The most important thing he noticed was that Aviles’ flyball rate has slowly been inching forward, incrementally up from 33.4% in his rookie year to 37.9% this last year. That certainly helped his ISO move back from .055 in his lost year to .108 in 2010, but even this new number is sub-par (average is .150ish). Can we faithcast him for more power next year if that flyball rate continues to move?

Maybe. His minor league ISO was .166, so he could put up average power in the major leagues. And getting more balls in the air helps the slugging percentage for sure. But let’s be careful before we pencil him in for more than 15 home runs. Let’s say he gets 500 plate appearances next year, hits 40% of his balls in the air, and returns to his 8% HR/FB while keeping his plate discipline ratios similar. Then he nets 13 home runs. 600 plate appearances? 15 home runs. There are your upper bounds when it comes to a home run total.

Of course, he has some speed. Look at his career four-score speed score, though, and you’ll see it’s more ‘above-average’ than ‘speedster’ kind of speed – Aviles has a 5.6 speed score and 5.0 is average. (Chris Getz, for example, has a career 6.6 speed score). Also, Aviles has never stolen more than 14 bases in a season. Let’s call his upper bounds 15 stolen bases then?

So Aviles has the upside of a .300-hitting, 15/15 second baseman – his 13 games at shortstop this year may or may not qualify him there in your league, and that makes a difference in terms of positional value. But Aviles will also be 30 going into the season, and on a (perpetually?) rebuilding team that owns the aforementioned 27-year-old Getz at his position as well. Getz is a better fielder at his position (-0.1 career UZR/150 to Aviles’ -4.9 career UZR/150) and walks more (7.3% to Aviles’ 4.1% career), so this is no open-and-shut case. The downside is that the team makes it an open competition in the spring and Aviles finds himself as the super-utility guy. That makes him hard to keep, but an interesting late-round draft pick in deep league re-stocking drafts.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

13 Responses to “Is Mike Aviles a Keeper?”

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  1. Mike G. says:

    Aviles earned an amazing $18 in 5×5 A.L.-only formats in 2010. In leagues where he was purchased at auction and kept all year, he’s going to be a no-brainer: his average salary was $1 and even if Aviles craters and “only” earns $5-6 as a back-up he’s still worth keeping in the hopes that he earns $10-12. It’s trickier if you have the choice of keeping him at $10 (his free agent price in most leagues). At that price, you’re hoping for a profit from a player like Aviles, who probably won’t be a big earner in any specific category but will be more of a grinder. If you’re certain he’ll start, he’s a keeper (though perhaps a borderline one). If it looks like he’s going to be a back-up, I’d target him anywhere between $3-6 depending on what the Royals depth chart looks like come March. You have to demand profit from players like Aviles, since the floor is all too easy to see.

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  2. Phil Plantier says:

    And re: LaPorta now, what’s your current assessment/recommendation for him as a (cheap, in my league) keeper?

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  3. Bas says:

    Thanks for your response and thanks for the shout out.

    The problem with Getz is that even though he walks he doesn’t get on base enough (.305 this year, .315 career) and he doesn’t hit for power (.040 ISO this year, .068 career). With another year of Yuni Betancourt I can’t imagine the Royals would want both of their middle infielders to flirt with a .300 OPB. I don’t know if Aviles arm has healed enough tha he can play shortstop every day. But I think he is the only legit major league bat of the three Royals middle indfielders. So he should play every day at second or short.

    However, this is the Royals we are talking about so [insert favorite Royals-joke].

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    • Bas says:

      Sorry, for the typos.

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    • Paul says:

      The only thing that matters is whether or not the Royals think Getz’s on base skills from the minors and is amateur career will emerge, and they do. They want him to play over there every day because of the very good defense.

      If Aviles qualifies at 2B in your league, I think the offensive projection is pretty good, but keep in mind that he was not playing a lot early in the season, and he was still babying the elbow. If he plays every day he’ll be better than average with the bat at that position.

      Problem is that they are going to shift Aviles to 3B. It was either this or hook Joe Randa up to the juvenation machine, because they must improve defensively over there. They need to see what they really have in Hochevar, and Crow will be up at some point, so the infield defense really needs to be optimized to the greatest extent possible, given their obvious limitations with Yuni and Butler in the mix.

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  4. nolan says:

    Where is the upside? Aren’t you paying for a hot September? He’s an injury risk, he plays for a bad team, and he hasn’t been consistent at any point in his career. I think you can safely let him go in all but the deepest leagues.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      The conclusion was that he is hard to keep in anything but the deepest leagues due to the uncertainty surrounding his playing time and the downside risk he’s exposed to. I think that your statement agrees with that.

      However, I can understand misinterpreting the conclusion. For an article titled “Is Mike Aviles a Keeper,” that question is never explicitly answered. It’s left up to intrepretation from the final few lines: “it’s no open and shut case” and “that makes him hard to keep…”

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        I think my belief that he is not a keeper is pretty clear. If I avoided saying it outright, that was because there is a situation in which he would be a keeper. In specific, I’m in an 18-team 20-keeper league in which Desmond is my starting SS and Kinsler is my starting 2B. Aviles is in the mix for my final keeper spot (and still probably won’t make it).

        But there are deeper leagues than that, so I avoid making completely resolute statements.

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  5. joeiq says:

    Why did you think LaPorta would struggle? Was something wrong with his approach?

    Was there a red flag in the numbers? Just curiuos.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      It’s not really the numbers, it’s just LaPorta’s age while he was putting up those numbers. He was putting up great numbers while being at the same age or older than most of his competition. It’s not to say he won’t make it, but it is enough to be a tiny bit suspicious.

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  6. Gregg says:

    When did this site add a “KC Royals Porn” section? Can that generate any revenue?

    I cannot find another reason why this article happened.


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