Is Alex Avila tipping the Tigers’ pitches?


Avila for blog

Fans and the Tigers alike continue to look for answers when it comes to the team’s nearly month and a half long free fall. During that time the offense has gone silent but perhaps most importantly Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have been getting lit up by opposing pitchers which again leaves many wondering what the hell is going on? Could it be mechanics? A string of bad luck? Or is there something else?

One of the more interesting theories on the rotation’s struggles though comes from Hardballtalk.com and one of their readers named “Bill” who’s presumably a Tigers fan. The website claims they received an email from Bill who discovered a possible explanation which is detailed below:

Just something I noticed and started tracking yesterday…

The Tigers recent pitching woes really make me believe that there must be some way they were tipping their pitches. As I watched yesterday’s game against the Royals, I noticed Avila doing something that may or may not be a tell.

He gives the infield position signs, sends the signs to the pitcher and then does one of the following:

  • Smacks his glove once, fiddles/tightens it and it’s usually a fastball.
  • Smacks his glove twice, fiddles/tightens it and it’s usually a an off-speed pitch.

I started tracking around the second inning and got a 85% success rate at guessing the pitches. It’s probably nothing (and i’m reaching for an explanation for our recent performance) but I have to believe the staff or the catcher is tipping their hand somehow. Avila really was obvious when Phil Coke was in there. He stopped after that inning (for the most part). Compared to Salvador Perez, who never alters his routine, it stuck out some.

HBT and Bill go on to state that although it’s a possible explanation for what’s happening with the Tigers the theory is still “thin” and could be totally “imaginary”. It was also a talking point during the latest episode of the Detroit Sports Edge last night.

First of all is it totally that far-fetched that Avila tipping pitches is the problem? Not as much as it may seem considering opposing teams are always looking for an advantage whether it be doctoring the ball, making that slight lean into a pitch on a breaking ball or finding a way to figure out the oppositions pitching strategy before a pitch is even thrown. It also may be important to note from the DSE broadcast as Dorf stated that the last time Bryan Holaday had a full game behind the plate was during Max Scherzer’s first career complete game shutout.

Then again Avila possibly tipping pitches isn’t the only problem of the Tigers. There’s plenty of other problems the team needs to remedy if they want to get out of the tail spin.

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