Mike Aviles Will Be A Key to The Indians Success In 2015

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We’ve talked plenty here at Wahoo’s on First about the Cleveland Indians players that will be returning from injury. Questioned who will return to form, who might be past their prime. We’ve talked about Corey Kluber and if last years Cy Young was a flash in the pan or a glimpse of a brilliant future. But the man who will play a very important part in the Tribes success is Mike Aviles.

Every team has that “super utility man” on the roster. It is a curse, and a blessing. It often leads you to be without a constant home, but the ability to play multiple positions is value that teams desperately look for. Aviles gives Terry Francona that guy.

And this year his importance cannot be overstated. Aviles will be a difference maker this season.

Last year he played six different positions. The most he played at any one was 36 (third base). Entering camp, it seems to be Lonnie Chisenhall‘s job to lose. He’s listed as the backup to every infield position but first, and in theory is the actual listed backup in right, as Brandon Moss is already starting in right.

Last year was the fewest amount of games he had played in the last three years, playing in 113 games. Not bad for a guy who isn’t listed as a starter anywhere on the depth chart. But with the aforementioned players coming back from injury, and Chisenhall’s weak effort in the second half, Aviles is going to play a part in plenty of games this season.

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While his versatility is his strength, his lack of power is what hinders his opportunity at everyday play.  His isolated power number (SLG.-AVG.) last season was .096. Down from his career of .124. He’s had only two years of 10+ home runs (2008,2012), but it’s not for lack of playing time. He’s averaged over 100 games played per year.

But being able to man six different positions will keep you in the league for many years, even if the ball rarely leaves the yard. His slash line sat at .247/.273/.343, while driving in 39 runs, with only five home runs. Aviles did snag 14 bases, good for third on the team.

Jason Kipnis feels healthy, and appears poised to bounce back this season. Aviles defensively is strong at second, but will see less time with the return of Kipnis. But should he have any lingering issues, Aviles becomes your man. Same for third if Chisenhall falters out of the gate.

Essentially he becomes a giant safety net for the Indians infield, as well as leaving Francona more options in the bullpen. His ability to play so many positions allowed the Tribe to carry an extra pitcher most of last season.

Clearly “Most Valuable” has become synonymous with big numbers. Home runs, batting .350, blah, blah. He’s not going to get any awards for his stats, but Aviles very well could be the Tribes MVP this season.

Next: Can Kipnis Return To His All-Star Form?

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