Chicago Cubs: Should the North Siders bring back Alex Avila?

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 20: Alex Avila
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 20: Alex Avila /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 25: Jerad Eickhoff
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 25: Jerad Eickhoff /

Avila’s defense is still a work in progress

In over 6,000 innings behind the dish, Avila has committed 31 errors. While that may not sound like many, that equates to a .995 fielding percentage, just barely above league average.

Along with Avila’s solid yet average fielding percentage, the veteran is lacking in another defensive category, defensive runs saved. In his career, Avila has saved negative 15 runs defensively. For a reference, Rene Rivera, Avila’s teammate, has saved 17 runs defensively in just over 3,300 innings behind the dish.

One upside to Avila’s defensive game is his ability to catch base runners. For his career, Avila has a 29% caught stealing rate, which is two percentage points higher than league average. Despite that, Avila’s percentage has dropped from last season to this season. In 2016, Avila threw out 33% of base runners. This season, however, that percentage has dropped to 25%, three points below league average.

Lack of defensive versatility

In nine big-league seasons, Avila has logged just 235 2/3 innings at first base and eight innings at third base. While Avila preformed rather well at these positions (one error at first base and one error at third base), the lack of substantial innings at a secondary position could be concerning.

On a team full of players that can play multiple positions and play them well, Avila may have a hard time fitting into the line-up when Contreras is starting 130 games at catcher every season.