June 19, 2008
Important editorial note: Today I'm traveling with Brad Evans to the big Zack Greinke-Brad Thompson match-up, so you won't hear from us for several hours. Brad is planning some sort of photo essay to document the trip, so look for that in the days ahead. It's sure to be loaded with relevant, time-sensitive fantasy information.
Your Thursday morning guest lecturer is Minda Haas, proprietor of Baseball and Other Things. The subject, of course, is Mike Aviles. We thought it best to get an opinion on him from someone who's actually witnessed his shocking rise to power firsthand.
And yeah, if Royals bloggers think we've been too enthusiastic about Aviles, then perhaps we have been...
Is Mike Aviles the Rookie of the Year?
Is he the Royals' long-term answer at shortstop?
OK, maybe some of those are a stretch. Maybe they all are. But for the moment, Royals fans are very excited about the 27-year-old New Yorker Aviles. He was well-loved by the Royals' Triple-A fans, and it seemed absurd that he was left to destroy Minor League pitching without ever getting a shot against big leaguers, and ultralight-hitting shortstop Tony Pena, Jr. kept getting at-bats.
Aviles' first game was less than special (he went 0-for-3) but since that time he's been an extra-base machine. Nine of his 15 major league hits have been for extra bases, and he has already matched Pena's total number of bases -- Pena had 31 total bases in 58 games, compared to Aviles' 31 in 13 games.
Will this last? Sam Mellinger has hopes that Aviles' bat will keep up, that he is the long-term answer for the Royals. But I don't think it's realistic to expect the late-blooming Aviles to keep hitting at this ridiculous pace forever -- and trust me, it's painful to say this. He's been such a great spark for the team and I love to see a good guy like him be successful. Sooner or later, MLB pitchers will figure him out; they'll deal him breaking pitches he might not be able to hit.
For the moment, he's the guy the Royals need to fill in for a shortstop who simply could not avoid outs. Aviles is a treasure for Kansas City fans, but I don't think you should rush out and add him to your fantasy team. Maybe if you need a quick-fix SS for a while, Aviles is your guy. But unfortunately, you might have to look elsewhere for a lshortstop who can help you clean-up in your league long-term.