Tuesday, July 23, 2024
AL EastAmerican LeagueAnalysisMLBNew York Yankees

Three Reasons Luis Avilan Is A Good Signing By The Yankees

About a week ago the Yankees signed Luis Avilan to a minor league deal with a Spring Training Invite. At first glance, the Luis Avilan signing doesn’t make much sense for the Yankees. They already have Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton in their bullpen so signing a lefty with a 5.06 ERA and a 4.96 FIP  in 2019 might not be very helpful in light of the new three batter minimum. Avilan is a lefty who allowed a .441 wOBA, .423 xwOBA, and a 7.01 FIP to righties in 87 plate appearances last year. Avilan probably won’t play a major role on the Yankees but there are three reasons this is a good signing. 


1. His Underlying Metrics Suggest Recovery

Most advanced metrics suggest that Avilan was at least an average pitcher last year. Avilan had a 4.61 xFIP, 4.46 SIERA, and a 4.32 pCRA. The only metric that didn’t like Avilan was DRA which rated him at a 104.6 DRA- and a 104 cFIP, however, DRA isn’t as conservative as other metrics. 


2. Avilan’s Home Run numbers should decrease next year. 

Last year, Avilan had a problem suppressing home runs with a 1.41 HR/9 well above his career average of 0.53 but around the league average of 1.40. The difference is that Avilan only gave up 28.7% flyballs last year below the league average 35.7%. Avilan’s 18.5 HR/FB% is well above his career total of 7.5% and should decrease next year. On top of that, Avilan’s 85.1 average exit velocity on fly balls (92 mph is league average) is the second lowest of his career (data only available since 2015) and only .1 higher than his 85 mph average exit velocity last year when he had a 6.1 HR/FB. Avilan’s average flyball distance of .294 feet is the second lowest of his career and well below the league average of 324 ft. 


3. He Provides the Yankees with Left Handed Relief Depth

Other than Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees don’t have any lefty relievers on their 40 man roster. Recently the Yankees have traded away lefties Nestor Cortes and Stephen Tarpley, whose left-handed slider generated a 49% whiff rate against lefties causing an overall 40% K rate against lefties. Jordan Montgomery is on the 40 man roster however, he has only appeared out of the bullpen once in 37 major league games. But because most of his pitches break towards a right handed batter he has reverse splits with a career 4.90 FIP against lefties and a 3.93 FIP against righties. Tyler Lyons another Yankee lefty in AAA has recorded a negative fWAR the past two years and probably won’t see a lot of playing time this year. The Rays, the Yankees strongest in division opponent, will likely start Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows, Ji Man Choi, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Kevin Kiermaier all lefties. There may be some concern about the three batter minimum affecting Avilan due to his 7.01 FIP against righties in 2019. However, Avilan is actually effective both ways, in his career, he has a 3.80 FIP against righties and a 3.00 career FIP against lefties proving he won’t suffer as much as his 2019 splits would suggest. Avilan’s two main pitches, his changeup and sinker, both move in on a righty which makes them effective against righties. Over the past three years, his changeup has generated more swing and misses against righties. 

YearUsage Against RightiesWhiff Rate Against RightiesUsage Against LeftiesWhiff Rate Against Lefties
201958%34.4%58.8%34.9%
201855.5%35.1%39.6%26.7
201753.2%44%45.4%40%
201661.3%55.3%36.8%56.7%

Patrick Bowe

I am a Mets fan who takes an analytical approach to baseball and evaluating players. I prefer to focus on small details instead of broad generalizations.