2012 Red Sox Player Preview: Mike Aviles

Aviles won the starting SS job in spring training

Let me be the first to congratulate Mike Aviles on being named the Red Sox starting shortstop for the 2012 season.  While Aviles wrapped up the starting spot this past week he finds himself caught in an auspicious position between replacing a solid starter for the past two years in Marco Scutaro who was seemingly traded out of town on a whim this off-season and place holding for star prospect Jose Iglesias who as early as last weekend was still in contention for the starting job.  Aviles spent his whole career thus far in Kansas City so the 31-year old will probably enjoy his first full campaign in a big market like Boston.

Here’s a look at Aviles’ 2011 season (career highs in parentheses):

Games: 91 (110, 2010)
Average: .255 (.304, 2010)
On-Base Percentage: .289 (.354, 2008)
Slugging Percentage: .409 (.480, 2008)
On Base plus Slugging (OPS): .698 (.833, 2008)
Home Runs: 7 (10, 2008)
Runs Batted In: 39 (51, 2008)
Runs: 31 (68, 2008)
Doubles: 17 (27, 2008)
Walks: 13 (20, 2010)

2012 Season Outlook:

Aviles 2011 numbers might be a bit deceiving as he hit much better in Boston than in Kansas City.  He hit .317 for the Sox after being acquired at the trade deadline.  He logged a fair amount of innings in the absence of Kevin Youkilis at 3rd base late last year.  It seems as though the big city spotlight did not intimidate Aviles a bit.  Aviles is not a power hitter who will give you a bunch of home runs and RBI but he is a solid hand at either the top or the bottom of the lineup.  His patience leaves a bit to be desired but he has hit well in the lead-off position during the spring and it will be interesting to see whether or not Bobby Valentine puts him there early in the season, especially since Carl Crawford won’t be ready yet.

Aviles' defense will be in the spotlight all season long

The big thing for Aviles will be his defense.  Aviles is no stranger to shortstop, he played 178 games there in his first two seasons in the league, but he had shifted more to playing 2nd and 3rd base in the last three seasons.  His range could be an issue and the Red Sox biggest downfall last year may have been their defense.  With guys like Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard, and even Aaron Cook who rely heavily on ground balls possibly all in the rotation at one point or another defense will be key, particularly in the middle infield.  That’s where a guy like Iglesias comes in.  This guy is ready to come in and play Gold Glove caliber defense from day 1 and just needs the hitting aspect of things to catch up with him.  If Aviles becomes a liability in the field at short who is to say that Iglesias offensive deficiencies aren’t easier to overcome than Aviles’ defensive issues?  Of course all of this right now is just hearsay and Aviles might do just fine at short.  It’s just that he hasn’t been asked to do it consistently in a while.

At the very least, if Iglesias does eventually usurp Aviles during the season, then you have a very reliable super-sub on your hands who can play virtually every position on the diamond.  Aviles was working out in the outfield during the off-season when the Sox still had Scutaro on the roster.  He can play all infield positions and can also be relied on in the corner outfield spots.  He can come into games late to lay down a bunt or give you some solid base running.  Writing this paragraph almost makes me wish that Iglesias did make the squad because Aviles could be very reliable on the bench but he earned the starting spot and he deserves to play himself out of it.

Aviles is a hard worker and will be a versatile player for the Sox

Aviles is one of those solid clubhouse hands that the Sox have been trying to build the team with.  He has value to the Sox as a starter or a back-up so he will be a pretty important guy on the team.  It’s not hard to feel good for Mike though, he spent 5 years in the Royals organization before he finally made it to the bigs in 2008 at age 27.  He busted his ass for 3 1/2 seasons for a directionless Kansas City franchise and was shipped over to Boston to play for a team that is in championship contention every season and has made the most out of his opportunities here.  He is the type of guy that you feel good about when the Sox make a run deep into the playoffs and maybe even win a championship.  So was the guy he replaces but hopefully he’ll have better luck than him.  He may be a starter or a bench guy but he will bring his A-game wherever he plays.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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