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As Wins and Hits Pile up, Detroit Tigers’ Bryan Holaday Pushing for Playing Time

June 20th, 2014 at 1:31 PM
By Max DeMara

Don't expect Detroit Tigers' catcher Bryan Holiday to agree with the notion that he should be playing more routinely. A humble catcher, Holaday is simply doing what he can to help the team on the days he's called upon.

'Bryan Holaday 03' photo (c) 2014, GabboT - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Despite that, though, don't expect the faint cries from fans to grow any quieter for Holaday to play, especially seeing as Alex Avila, his catching partner, is hitting a miserable .212 on the season with a disappointing four home runs and 14 RBI when much more was expected.

In that aspect, Holaday has become somewhat of a people's champion. He doesn't play every day, so as a result, his statistics look better. A .306 average with seven RBI is solid for a backup, but if the catcher was an everyday starter, those figures would more than likely take a significant dip.

Still, Holday remains somewhat of an interesting statistical anomaly as well. He routinely makes the little offensive plays needed to help manufacture wins, such as his squeeze bunt single in Chicago which aided the Tigers in a clutch 4-3 win. Thursday, he dropped down another surprise bunt and ended up on second base as the Tigers tried desperately to scratch across an insurance run. Though they failed to plate him from third with one out, they still won the game.

When he plays, more than likely, Holday ends up on base somehow, and more than likely, the Tigers also win. In games he's caught, the Tigers have a 14-13 record. The pitchers have gotten to respect his abilities behind the plate, and a .978 fielding percentage hasn't been a defensive liability, either.

Should Avila not be able to get things together soon and pick up the offense significantly, the Tigers might have no choice but to run Holaday into the lineup more often and see what happens. The bottom half of the order can survive having streaky rookies like Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez, but it cannot survive getting nothing from the catcher's spot in multiple games.

With timely hits and a gritty mentality, many would now probably rather see Holaday go down swinging after several pitches or drop a bunt rather than suffer through a quick, frustrating Avila at-bat, capped off with a strikeout or fly ball.

If Holday keeps making the little plays which most often lead to winning, it will be difficult to justify keeping him out of the lineup, even if he's simply a backup catcher that many consider to have a marginal ceiling at best.

The fact that such a player is now applying serious heat to start speaks to how bad Avila has been, and how Holaday has shown a unique ability to positively develop his own distinct game.

Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.

Tags: Alex Avila, Baseball, Bryan Holaday, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, MLB

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