Cubs: Alex Avila benefits from Willson Contreras injury

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 05: Alex Avila
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 05: Alex Avila /

The Cubs lost their starting catcher and arguably their best hitter for a few weeks. With Willson Contreras out, Alex Avila gains a lot of value.

With injury comes opportunity.

The Chicago Cubs, unfortunately, ran into a speed bump on their way back to the World Series with the injury to their catcher Willson Contreras. The Cubs seem to have a viable replacement on the roster, and his name is not Kyle Schwarber. It’s Alex Avila.

The Cubs acquired 30-year-old Avila, and Justin Wilson, at the trade deadline. Avila was hitting well with the Detroit Tigers in the first half. However, he was splitting time with James McCann.

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In 219 at-bats, Avila hit .274 with 11 home runs, 32 RBI and 30 runs scored. He also had an 80:43 K:BB ratio and a .392 on-base percentage. He went undrafted in ESPN leagues, but that’s due to the majority playing in one-catcher or shallow leagues

For the season, Avila ranks No. 12 among catchers on the Player Rater for the season. To compare, Contreras ranked No. 2, behind Buster Posey.

Contreras was diagnosed with a hamstring strain and will miss four to six weeks. This gives Avila a lot of playing time to warrant a pickup. There are very few starting catchers available on the waiver wire, especially at this point in the season. There are even less that play on an offense as good as the Cubs.

So far with the Cubs, Avila is hitting .182 with two homers and four RBI. He has just 11 at-bats so the sample size is way too small to make an opinion on his batting.

For the year, Avila has a 38.1 ground ball, 36.7 fly ball and 25.2 line drive rate. He also has a career-high 50 percent hard hit rate and career-low 5.4 soft hit rate. To simplify, Avila is making better contact with the ball and hitting it hard when he does.

Avila has hit eighth and sixth in his last two starts. Hitting behind Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Schwarber will provide him many opportunities to drive in runs and get on base.

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Avila is owned in just 35.5 percent of ESPN leagues, up 6.6 percent over the last week. If you are in need of a starting catcher or just want another bat, pick up Avila now.