Mike Aviles ended last season on a hot streak, he had a very good spring training, and hit a home run in the first game of the season. All signs point to a good year right? Not so much. Aviles is 2 for 21 on the season, one of those hits being his home run on opening day. Not only has Aviles not hit well, he has walked a measly one time and has played atrocious defense. So what is wrong with Mike Aviles? The answer could be a number of things depending on how we look at it. In 2008 and 2010 Aviles batted over .300 in more than 400 plate appearances. In 2009, and so far in 2011, Aviles has hit under .200. You might be asking “what in the world can we take from that?”
One theory is that Mike Aviles in uncomfortable starting the season as an everyday player. In his productive seasons, Aviles has come to the team at least a month after it has started. He was called up in 2008 from the minors, coming to a losing Royals team with low expectations. In 2010 Aviles came to the team from the minors after missing the majority of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, also to a losing team with low expectations. However, in 2009 and 2011 Aviles was penciled in as a starter and had big expectations to produce everyday. There are many players who don’t handle that kind of pressure very well, and Aviles could be one of them.
Another theory is that he is uncomfortable both on the field and at the plate. It is a season of firsts for Aviles, he is playing 3rd base and batting leadoff for the first time in his career. Aviles has made numerous fielding errors, and they could be killing his confidence as a hitter. A lot of the time when a player is struggling in one aspect of the game, he starts second guessing themselves as a whole and it gets in their head.
If Wilson Betemit continues to swing a hot bat and plays solid defense at 3rd, Aviles might be held to a utility role. Even if Aviles makes it back to the everyday lineup, he needs to bat farther down in the order to take some of the pressure off. If he continues to struggle at 3rd and Betemit goes cold maybe the powers that be should consider calling up Moustakas a little early, especially if the team keeps winning. Regardless, the team is winning, Betemit is playing very well, Chris Getz is batting over .300, and Jason Kendall still isn’t back from the DL. All of which calls for celebration.