Expected Improvements: Mike Aviles & Ryan Raburn

In continuation of the silly experiment to see how much can actually be gained from Baseball-Reference's similarity scores, we will now take a look at two veterans returning to the Tribe in 2014. Unlike the previous editions, these two players are not extremely young or in their prime. In fact, both Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn will be 33 heading into the 2014 season and are both firmly in place in back-up roles.

Raburn will be very interesting next season as he played far below expectations in 2012 and far above in 2013. This has equaled out his expectations for 2014 and nobody really knows what is coming. As a reserve outfielder, the Indians don't need a whole lot from Raburn, but if he could repeat his success from last season he would be an incredible asset. At age 32, he compares closest to Jody Gerut, Casey Blake, Rick Ankiel, Mike Blowers and Darrin Jackson. Of course, Gerut retired after his age 32 season so he will be replaced in the equation by Wes Helms.

Raburn G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 30 121 387 53 99 22 2 14 49 1 1 21 114 .256 .297 .432 .729
2012 31 66 205 14 35 14 0 1 12 1 1 13 53 .171 .226 .254 .480
2013 32 87 243 40 66 18 0 16 55 0 0 29 67 .272 .357 .543 .901
Average 33 103.6 310 38.8 78.6 17.4 1.6 8.8 47.2 2 1.6 24 76.8 .254 .308 .405 .713

Again, the Baseball-Reference similarity scores come through. Most likely, Raburn will play more games than he did last season as he is likely to platoon with David Murphy in right field, rather than be used only as a back-up. Despite this increase in playing time, the Indians should expect a drop in power and average as he is one year older. In general, there seem to be few problems with this prediction outside of the steal numbers as he didn't attempt a steal in 2013 and likely won't in 2014. 

While both utility men are turning 33 in the near future, Aviles has actually played two less seasons than Raburn and he plays like he is at least two years younger. Because of this, it is unsurprising that his group of comparatives is slightly better than Raburn's. Aviles five closest players include Gene Baker, Marco Scutaro, Kazuo Matsui, Kurt Abbott and Jeff Treadwell. Of these, Abbott and Treadwell retired at 32, so they will be replaced by Nelson Liriano and Bob Johnson.

Aviles G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 30 91 286 31 73 17 3 7 39 14 4 13 44 .255 .289 .409 .698
2012 31 136 512 57 128 28 0 13 60 14 6 23 77 .250 .282 .381 .663
2013 32 124 361 54 91 15 0 9 46 8 5 15 41 .252 .282 .368 .650
Average 33 90.2 258 35 68.8 12.8 0.8 4.8 27 6.6 1.6 28.6 37.2 .267 .334 .378 .713

Aside from the games played, Aviles numbers seem to fall pretty much in line with what he should be expected to do. With the averages near, or higher than expected, playing time really is the deciding factor. This will depend on a variety of things, including who the other utility men are on the Indians roster (with Jeff Francoeur he would get more playing time, with David Adams, less) and how well a few players (Lonnie Chisenhall and Francisco Lindor) perform. If Chisenhall struggles again, Aviles will take up the majority of the extra playing time. If Lindor is great in AAA, however, he may take Aviles (or Asdrubal Cabrera's) role over entirely.

This will be an important season and very possibly Aviles last as an Indian. With Lindor and Jose Ramirez essentially at a Major League level already, there is little use for the 33 year old and Aviles only has an option remaining for 2015. If he could pull off rate stats anywhere near those listed as expected, he could bring in a nice return at the trade deadline, which, depending on the Indians state of contention and the successes of Ramirez and Lindor, could be the perfect time to deal him.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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