If you want to find one of the key reasons for Cleveland’s big turnaround from 2012 to 2013, just look at the upgrades on the bench — like the addition of Mike Aviles. It is very easy to just look at a starting nine or the five-man rotation, but over a long 162-game season, depth really comes into play.
During the 2012 season, Cleveland’s key bench members consisted of players like Shelley Duncan, Lou Marson, and Jose Lopez. Last season was a different story, however, as key contributions from the likes of Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes, and Aviles helped put Cleveland over the top.
The funny thing about Aviles, though, is that even though he was an upgrade over the 2012 bench, his 2013 season was not all that impressive. Depending on which version of WAR you care for, Aviles was either worth 0.3 fWAR or 0.6 rWAR in 2013. Either way, despite playing in 124 games and logging 394 plate appearances, Aviles was well below-average last season.
How did that happen following Aviles’ rather stellar 2012 campaign? The infielder dropped from 1.5 to 0.3 fWAR despite his offense staying rather stagnant (.250/.282/.381 line in 2012, .252/.282/.368 line in 2013). Well, Aviles saw a regression in his defense. The metrics have never really loved Aviles at third base, yet that is where he spent almost half of his time in 2013.
Basically, Aviles plays a good shortstop (7.2 career UZR/150), but not a good third base (-18.2 career UZR/150; though that sample is fairly limited, the fact that the stats are that bad are a pretty good indication of Aviles’ defensive ability at the hot corner and they would only regress so far).
His defensive positioning-induced fluctuating WAR totals aside, the real interesting thing about Aviles in 2013 are the underlying statistics behind his poor offensive line. A mere look at his slash lines above indicate that he was the same hitter in 2012 and 2013, but Aviles actually made some significant changes in his approach. Read More…
From Indians Baseball Insider, January 14, 2014