Making the Grade: Ranking Catchers in the AL Central

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No. 5: Alex Avila / James McCann, Detroit Tigers

Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (13) gets checked on by a team trainer and manager Brad Ausmus (7) after being hit by a foul ball against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning in game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Comerica Park. Avila was removed from the game. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers are still non-committal about naming Alex Avila their full-time catcher in 2015 – and rightfully so. 

Since his breakout 2011 season, Avila has seen his offensive production regress tremendously. He has had three stints on the disabled list and a whopping 13 day-to-day injuries in that time span, and he is already nursing a sore back in spring training. Last season, Avila hit a measly .218 with just 11 homeruns while striking out 151 times in just 390 at-bats. Avila’s splits are woeful against left-handed pitching, hitting well below the Mendoza line against righties over the last three seasons.

But Avila has always done an exceptional job with the Tigers pitching staff, serving as the catching half of a battery unit that has won two out of the last four Cy Young Awards.

Catching prospect James McCann is likely going to see time in the big leagues, possibly in a platoon role, this season after hitting .295 with seven homeruns and 54 RBIs in Toledo (AAA) last season. McCann, who hits right-handed, should transition into a more permanent role as the season progresses but, for now, this is the least productive catching duo in the division.

Next: No. 4