The case for Alex Avila

What’s in a beard?

If you’re a hockey fan (as I am) you know that a playoff beard is part of standard lore, and you probably looked forward to seeing the usually clean-shaven Steve Yzerman slowly become a bit scruffier, or the perpetually stubbled Brendan Shanahan turn into a grizzly bear overnight.

The Tigers are noticeable lacking in the facial hair department, and it’s not (as far as I am aware) due to any Steinbrenner-esque rules (no visible tats, no facial hair, steroids and cheating okay).

Earlier in the season, I bitched and moaned about the Tigers not playing with any sense of urgency, and there seemingly being no clubhouse leader to smack their asses into line.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I’ve been proven wrong.

Enter Alex Avila.

When he was called up at the end of the 2009 season, Alex was money.

In 61 at-bats, Alex launched 5 homeruns, batted .279 and walked ten times. His slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS were impressive too: .375/.590/.965, respectively.

Keep in mind Avila was only 22 at the time.

Since then, he has called Armando Galarraga’s (near) perfect game and, this weekend, Justin Verlander’s second career no-hitter.

His stats are impressive, but more so, he’s starting to remind me of Big Wheel—Lance Parrish, so named because he was the big wheel in the Tiger’s championship machine.

What makes Avila, at the tender age of 24, the second coming of Lance?

Check out his new facial hair. While he’s always had the perpetual 5 o’clock shadow, he’s now sporting a rather counter-trendy goatee.

Then, he said this: We’re too good to be playing like this.

Mind you, he’s right, and mind you, no one else bothered to say it. Calling your teammates out to the press? That’s what a leader, or a douchebag, does. How do you know which Alex is?

Let’s check the video evidence.

That’s right. Kid takes Andruw Jones out at the plate. He sets up for a collision and DOES. NOT. BUDGE.

What’s that? Is that the sound of Avila putting his money where his mouth is?

Yes. And you’ll notice the Tigers have been a different team lately. A team with a leader, who is only 24 years old—a lot like someone else who grew an okay beard every now and then. Stevie Y, anyone?

3 Responses to “The case for Alex Avila”
  1. John J. Miller says:

    While this may sound far-fetched, should the Tigers win their division, or enter the playoffs as a wildcard, Avila would get my vote (would that I had one) for MVP. Yes for reasons like you cite, but also for his statistics (which you also cited in brief, come to think of it.)

    • Angela Vasquez-Giroux says:

      He’s really turned a corner, and I think it has something to do with his new stance — he turns his front shoulder in a bit, so you can see the last number on his jersey as he waits for the pitch. In terms of leadership, well, you can’t make these guys into leaders, but you can nurture the ones who step up. A catcher is a natural leader, and I hope Leyland, et al, let Alex assume that role with minimal interference.

      I think it says something about coming from a baseball background, too. Having better coaches, better examples, etc.

  2. MaggieMI says:

    Looove iiiiit! That is all.

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