Mike Aviles: Looking for Playing Time

Mike Aviles played in 136 games for the Red Sox in 2012, mainly at short stop. This off season, Aviles has been on the move. First, he was traded to the Blue Jays. Two weeks after that trade, the Blue Jays traded him to the Indians. Aviles should be an OK middle infielder in deep and AL only leagues depending on if he can get on the field.

Aviles has some talent. He some hitting skills. Some power. Some speed. None of these three traits will lead him to be mistaken as top flight middle infielder. They will let you know what to except from him. Give 600 PA, he will hit around ten HRs (which have been trending up a bit), walk 4% of the time (4.2% is his career value, same us his 2011 and 2012 values) and have 14 SBs (his exact total from the last 3 seasons).

The one stat of his that bounces around is his AVG. Since he rarely walks, he needs his BABIP high to get on base. His BABIP has been inconsistent over the years.

Season: BABIP, LD%
2008: .357, 20%
2009: .223, 19%
2010: .327, 19%
2011: .276, 16%
2012: .269, 19%

His BABIP jumps all over the place while his line drive percentage, the major factor contributing to his BABIP value, remains relatively constant.

Aviles could be a decent play, if he finds some playing time. The Indians currently have Jason Kipnis at 2B and Asdrubal Cabrera at SS. Both are younger than the 31-year-old Aviles. Right now he looks to be a utility infielder, but there are some possibilities for him to get more playing time.

First, Cabrera could be traded to the another team. The Indians need pitching help and Cabrera could help to bring some to the team. The second way is for the Indians to move Aviles to 3B. The team got the following slash line from their 3B in 2012: .254/.303/.374 While Aviles’ career numbers aren’t a whole lot better (.277/.308/.408), they are comparable.

Finally, the best move, but least likely, is that the Indians platoon the right-handed Aviles with left-handed Kipnis at 2B. Here are the pair’s career splits

vs LHP: .295/.339/.458 wOBA = .344
vs RHP: .269/.294/.386 wOBA = .297

vs LHP: .223/.306/.300 wOBA = .275
vs RHP: .279/.349/.456 wOBA = .350

Some players that had a wOBA in 2012 between .344 and .350 were Derek Jeter, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Trumbo. While Cleveland may not what to platoon Kipnis, it could provide them All-Star production from the 2B position. Finally, besides competing for playing time in Cleveland, he could just find himself on the move again to another team. Who knows, the third time may be a charm.

Mike Aviles had a serviceable 2012 season. While he has a fairly predictable production level, besides a BABIP driven AVG, he will have problems finding playing time in 2013 with the Tribe. I would stay away from rostering him until a possible everyday position opens up.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

3 Responses to “Mike Aviles: Looking for Playing Time”

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  1. jkafka says:

    Because of his position versatility, including OF, I don’t think a strict platoon with Kipnis would be best. Ideally, the Indians would like to see Kipnis improve against lefties, ala Curtis Granderson. If Kipnis is the weakest hitter against lefties on a given day, go for it.

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  2. Sterling says:

    Where does Lonnie Chisenhall fit into 2013?

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    • Adam says:

      Chisenhall is slated to be the Tribe’s starting 3B this year, which is why Aviles isn’t likely to see a ton of playing time there. He got hurt shortly after his callup last year, but unless he gets injured again there’s no reason to think he wont be the everyday guy. The only chance Aviles has of being a starter is if Cabrera is dealt.

      That being said, I actually think Aviles will get a good deal of playing time even if Cabrera isn’t traded. As Jeff mentioned, Kipnis has struggled mightily against lefties so far in his career, and Chisenhall is no different. He struggled against them in the minors and so far has a .301 wOBA against them at this level. He’ll see plenty of playing time at 2B and 3B this year. In addition to that, the Indians have made it known that they want to give Cabrera regular days off due to his recent second half slumps, and Aviles is the only other SS on the roster. We’ll have to see how the LF situation shakes out over the winter, but it’s not hard to imagine him seeing time there as well.

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