Who’s The Better Starter? Pena or Avila?

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It has been no secret  that Alex Avila has not been anything but disappointing for the Detroit Tigers this season. In 304 plate appearances, Avila is currently hitting .207 with 9 home runs and 39 RBI. He also has a disappointing .297 OBP in his 79 games played. Avila has been battling injuries this season with the most recent being a possible concussion that landed him on the 7 day concussion disabled list as well as a short rehabilitation stint in the minors.

Defense has also been a sore spot for Avila this entire season as base runners have been running at will on him. Avila has thrown out only 11 base runners who were attempting to steal which is good for 16% of base runners caught stealing, well below the league average of 26%. 58 base runners have been able to successfully steal a bag with Avila behind home plate.

Jim Leyland has made it clear in the past that Avila is his starter  despite the poor offensive and defensive numbers. The problem with that is that his backup, Brayan Pena, is having a nice offensive season and defensive season in only about 100 less plate appearances.

In Pena’s 208 plate appearances this season, he is hitting .313, with 4 home runs and 22 RBI. His OBP for those 208 PA is sitting 35 points higher than Avila at .332. Pena’s defense has also been much better than Avila’s when he gets the playing time. Pena has thrown out 12 of the base runners who were attempting to steal which is good for 24% of base runners caught stealing and only 2% below the league average. There have been 38 successful steals with Pena behind home plate.

The only difficulty in comparing stats between Alex Avila and Brayan Pena is that Pena has seen almost 100 fewer plate appearances and appeared in about 20 less games than Avila has this season. It is hard to determine if Pena would be able to keep up his offensive pace over a full season’s worth of plate appearances.It is hard to go off of history in this case because Pena has never been anything more than a backup his entire major league career.

The Tigers refuse to give up on Avila as their starter as they hope that he can still return to his All-Star form of 2011 but there just seems to be no way that can happen, at least this season. Personally, I would give Pena a shot at the starting position as he has seemed to come up with big hits when they were needed most and his defensive abilities have been much improved over Avila. Who do you believe should be the starter for the Tigers down the stretch and into the playoffs? Should Alex Avila continue to keep the position despite his offensive and defensive struggles, or should the Tigers give Pena the chance to show what he can do on a full time basis?
-Brett D’Angelo

56 thoughts on “Who’s The Better Starter? Pena or Avila?”

  1. Also does anybody else notice that Avila’s numbers started slipping once we got a backup and he wasn’t playing everyday? Don’t sit him as much and his numbers will be exactly what the team needs. Not to be mention there will be fewer passed balls

  2. Avila calls a much better game and has a better rapport with the staff than Peña does.
    And @Dustin F Kring he’s also been injured consistently for the last two years.
    -RB

  3. Avila. We need him defensively and how he calls a game. Offensively we are obviously set. The numbers would prove as much.

  4. Avila’s defense has been atrocious, his offense even worse. And no way will they get rid of him, that’s the worst part

  5. Start Avila every game Dustin? I would bet almost every catcher in the league gets 1 out 4/5 games off. Avila more this year cause he’s been hurt including a concussion. Avila is an avg. MLB catcher at best. He’s been below avg. most of his career in the box.

  6. Were 20 games over 500 with Avila behind the dish. We are 1 game over with our back ups… Numbers don’t lie. And if Miggy were healthy and we didn’t have V Mart batting 4 with Dirks and garbage 5-9 this wouldn’t be a conversation.
    As Detroit sports fans, Were looking for a reason to freak out and say I told you so just incase we don’t get our world series… Sit back, enjoy what we have, and thank God this isn’t the 90s into the early 2000s

  7. I think Avila should be Toledo’s starting catcher for the rest of his career!! He’s always been a bum if it weren’t for his daddy upstairs he would never see the field

  8. Pena is battin near .300 and is a switch hitter, he’s the obvious choice, even tho I don’t think he calls as good a game and isn’t as good defensively

  9. Pena isn’t the answer. His Avg. would be low to mid 200’s if he played more games. He’s a career backup catcher.

  10. their winning percentage with Avila is much higher than w/o him. plus he is great with the starting pitchers.

  11. It’s difficult to turn-away from a .100+ difference in BA, especially with Miggy out-of-the-lineup, sorry – but, I’ll take Pena’s hitting and enthusiasm right now! (Avila STILL looks “lost” at the plate…)

  12. Tigers are an above 500 team with Avila and a below 500 with anyone else… his stats are bad but pitchers proform better woth avila and his TIMELY hitting is why he is still in the bigs

  13. He was great in “11” not sure what has happened but Avila has been much better with the pitching staff than Pena. Personally I think we should have kept Laird.

  14. @Kenny Roberts!Avila has been horrible since 2011!I think catch Pena more often,and next year get a regular catcher that can hit,and Pena as a back up!Ship Avila,don’t care if daddy in office,this is a business!!!!

  15. Near .300? You mean .313, right? Lol. Guy’s been on fire. Avila is basically a sure 0-3 or 0-4. I’d start Pena. He’s a lot faster and fields his position better. He might not call a better came, but the pitcher can always shake him off.

  16. Now bout neither 1 cause they’re both not good enough to be a starting catcher for this team maybe a back up so y not go out and get 1 from from a team that’s not making the play offs u still have a month left

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