Mike Aviles: Exceeding Expectations

As night turned to day and the sun slowly rose in west we were graced with a new top rated shortstop, breaking Derek Jeter’s stronghold. It was bound to happen eventually, unless Jeter had another 1999 type season, and will certainly happen again, but I don’t think anyone could foresee who would take over a month into the season.

Mike Aviles isn’t a household name. I’m sure most of the population of the greater New England area would have trouble picking him out of a lineup. He’s hitting like he desperately wants that to change. Through the first month of the season the 31-year-old has a line of .291/.330/.535. He already has five home runs. His career high is 10, set in 441 plate appearances in 2008. His 17 April RBI are a career high for a single month. Is he doing anything different than he has in the past? Let’s take a look.

My first inclination was to look at his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) to see if it had taken a suspiciously high jump. It’s sitting at .290, so that’s certainly not the case. Next I took a look at his plate discipline numbers. It’s there we can see that things have changed a bit. He’s swinging far less than any time in the past. Of pitches outside the strikezone he’s swinging at just 27.7 percent, much lower than his career mark of 33.1 percent and slightly lower than the current MLB average of 29.2 percent. Even the percentage of pitches inside the zone, and his overall swing percentage, are down from his career levels. Every contact percentage is down as well. When Aviles actually is swinging the bat he’s making the most out of it. Swing rates are one of the quickest things to stabilize, so it should be safe to assume he’ll continue at those levels.

One worrisome item is his home and road splits. In nine home games his OPS is 1.022. In 12 road games its .738, which is actually roughly league average for a shortstop. Fenway has always been a great hitter’s park, so the fact that he’s hitting well there isn’t a big surprise. If he can maintain his road production he should be able to keep an OPS close to or above .800, which would put him in the upper half at his position.

In the spring there were calls, even from his own manager, for Jose Iglesias to get the starting job over him. He wasn’t amongst the top 10 shortstops selected on draft day according to Mock Draft Central. He’s made the most of his opportunity to silence the detractors, shutting them up one home run at a time.

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

11 Responses to “Mike Aviles: Exceeding Expectations”

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  1. oilcanboy says:

    Mike Aviles: silencing his detractors for more than 3 weeks.

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    • tylersnotes says:

      I don’t know that he ever had detractors, he just wasn’t on anyone’s radar because his ceiling isn’t especially high and he didn’t have SS eligibility until about 2 weeks ago. He would still be a fantasy average or worse 2b/3b, but could be an elite SS.

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  2. tylersnotes says:

    ZIPS had Aviles projected at 10 HR and 12 SB in 422 AB. Given that he will almost definitely have everyday playing time, and will continue to hit leadoff for at least several more weeks, a .280/15/15 season seems like it’s almost certain and could be conservative. His ADP for ESPN leagues was 260, but I got him off waivers early in the season in a deep dynasty league.

    Fact is, he doesn’t need to sustain these numbers to be valuable. He could just stop hitting for power completely (which isn’t likely) and still bring more than double what most teams pay for him with avg and runs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished the year a top 5 SS; he’s this year’s Asdrubal with multi-position eligibility.

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  3. mcbrown says:

    The other factor helping Aviles is hitting at the top of that lineup. His slash line is excellent, but not really eye-popping. Only his SLG stands out as unsustainably high, but even there he could reasonably post a high 4′s rate over a full season in a hitter-friendly park. What’s really driving his crazy fantasy value are his counting stats, which he’d likely be accumulating at a lower (but still valuable at SS) rate if he was relegated to the bottom of the order. In that sense he has benefited greatly from the Ellsbury and Crawford situations.

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  4. you just dont know it yet says:

    aviles 1

    aviles 2

    2 roads: no tender and get a 5.75 mil 2013 contract or

    contract extension 5 year 36 mil. with nice bonus

    you do the math, aviles will be paid handsomely this offseason, you just dont know it yet.

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      • aviles says:

        hes prolly trying to say im going to knock 20 and drive in 90 and steal 20 and get paid a fat wad of franklins.

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      • Mike Aviles says:

        Wait, don’t shoot! I’m the real Mike Aviles, shoot him!
        …anyway…what if that really is Mike Aviles up there? you ever wonder that? I’m sure players come on these sites too…My draft strategy of not bothering to draft a poor contributing shortstop with a decent pick worked out. Drafted Mike Aviles in like the 16 round in our 12 team league after my team was pretty squared away. Him and Cozart, figured one of them would pan out. Cozart is still putting up respectable numbers…End of rant.

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  5. Brian Cartwright says:

    Aviles batted 336/370/631 w/10 HRs in 2008 at Omaha before being recalled, then 325/354/480, another 10 HRs in 102 games with KC. THT Forecasts’s MLE for the whole year, including winter ball is 313/344/498. Returning to KC in 2010 after missing most of 2009 with TJ surgery, his MLE was 291/323/399, with a .306 BA in 110 MLB games. Biggest change was his ISO dropped from 185 to 108. In 2011(OMaha, KC, Boston) Aviles BA dropped but his powered returned, MLE of 259/291/449, ISO back to 190. His Forecasts is 277/309/439 for the rest of 2012, end of season total 18 HR, 75 RBI

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  6. pft says:

    Most Red Sox fans knew he could hit after last year, so don’t really think he has exceeded expectations despite a good starts

    The biggest question was his defense and he has exceeded expectations there. Has a great arm so can make plays in the hole most SS can only dream of. Does not have great range but it’s not bad. Does make some errors and is prone to making ill advised throws.

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  7. mattpullman says:

    Aviles was built for Fenway park. He’s not huge but he’s stocky and the Monster is perfect for him in left. He can just bang doubles off it all day ala Pedroia. He could produce very, very similar numbers to Pedroia just without the OBP (which would in turn hurt his runs total, but if he stays in the leadoff (2-hole with Ells back)) he’s going to turn in a monster season.

    He wasn’t on many radars, but he was certainly on mine. I picked him up less than a week into the season in 10-team league and have started him for nearly every one of his five-category contributions.

    I love me some Mike Aviles!

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