Alex Avila (C - DET) - Avila was activated from the DL and went 1-4 against the Cardinals. Following last year's breakout campaign, the backstop is hitting just .252/.337/.427 in 45 games. Regression was expected, but his LD% is actually up this year; however, his BABIP is 60 points lower. It's also worth nothing that he's been a much better hitter at home in his career (a 160-point OPS difference). He should outperform his current line going forward, although owners should not expect a repeat of last season's production. Still, he's a very solid option.
Derek Norris (C - OAK) - Norris was called up by the A's and went - in his Major League debut against the Dodgers. Acquired in the offseason from the Nationals as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade, the 23-year old backstop has shown excellent power and on-base skills throughout his minor league career. However, he has had contact issues, posting a 22.5 K% along the way. Also working against him are the huge foul territory and deep dimensions in the Oakland Coliseum and that he will be splitting time with incumbent Kurt Suzuki. He's worth a flier for catcher-needy owners, but he shouldn't be counted on for big production this year.
Prince Fielder (1B - DET) - Fielder hit his 11th home run of the year as part of a 2-4 day to raise his line to .306/.384/.500. His power is down this year as he's only on pace for around 25 home runs, but he's traded those fly balls for line drives as he's hitting them at a career-high rate. The power has been hurt by the move from Miller Park and the rest of the NL Central to Comerica Park and the AL Central, and he has been very mediocre against southpaws (.113 ISO, 3/20 BB/K). He should still finish with 25-30 home runs, but don't expect an instant return to last year's production.
Brennan Boesch (RP - DET) Boesch went 1-3 against the Cardinals and is hitting just .242/.276/.365. His mediocre walk rate from 2010-11 has halved this year and he's hitting slightly more ground balls at the expense of line drives. He's also hit only two fewer pop-ups than all of last season. He may start getting more hits as his BABIP is only .270, but the power outage indicators are very concerning.
Brayan Villarreal (RP - DET) - Villarreal struck out three more in 1 2/3 perfect innings to lower his ERA to 1.16 and raise his K% to an incredible 37.8. His strikeout rates in the minors were very good up until last season when it dropped to just 13.8% at AAA, but he struck out 22 in 14 innings in the minors this year and has continued the punchouts since his promotion to Detroit. With a 97 MPH fastball and a slider that has induced a 14.7% whiff rate that combine to produce those strikeouts, Villarreal is a roster-worthy option.
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