June 9, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Jose Iglesias (10) bats during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Revisiting the Jose Iglesias Illusion

Some seventeen days ago, I wrote about Jose Iglesias‘ fortunate season to date with the bat, and how, all things considered, it would be unlikely for him to sustain that very success with the bat. Naturally, Iglesias has since tallied an extra ten games to his hit streak, which reached eighteen games before ending last night against the Rays.

Undoubtedly, Iglesias’ offensive numbers (he is currently hitting .426 and has an OPS over 1.000) have been beyond impressive thus far. Additionally, he has raised his career batting average from .135 to .298 in a matter of just 29 games. Yet, when one observes everything in a vacuum, the way Iglesias has gone about his “torrid” stretch is one that remains unlikely to be sustained.

Two days ago, ESPN’s David Schoenfield wrote a piece regarding the same the thing I’m attempting to examine now, as he wanted to see how  Iglesias went about reaching that 18 game milestone. He manually reviewed each of Iglesias’ 26 hits during his hit streak, with a description classifying each base hit. You can observe Schoenfield’s results for yourself by clicking the link above, but he noticed a disproportionate amount of infield singles, bloops, and bleeders that comprised the majority of Iglesias’ hits.

It’s hard enough to survive in the Major Leagues and a player’s game that is based on bloops and texas-leaguers is basically a short-lived dream. Furthermore, while the ability to get infield singles may be a more repeatable skill, Iglesias has never been a fast enough runner to make a living off beating out ground balls (think Ichiro, Juan Pierre speed). While he will always be a major leaguer because of his glove and positional versatility, but I still have my qualms that Iglesias can keep this magic act up with the bat.

Again, this is not to take away from Iglesias’ actual on-field performance. The guy is hitting .426 for crying out loud and the Sox almost certainly would not be in the position they currently are in without both his offensive and defensive contributions. But dropping balls into the “Bermuda Triangles” behind first base and hitting weak ground balls only works so long.

Tags: Jose Iglesias

  • Rick M

    What about the outs? Personally his finest piece of hitting for me was a line drive to right center the other night for an out. His pitch selection has improved dramatically. For June he has 7 walks and 5 K’s prior to that he had just one walk and 6 K’s. I wish that improvement could migrate down the lineup to about six others. Jim Rice on color had some great comments on this kid but what does he know being the HOF and a former batting instructor. Ditto on Eck.

    The kid is putting the ball in play! That is what he has done and (hopefully) will continue to do. Willie Keller said it best. So let’s see if he keeps it up. Maybe he can be a 280′s guy for the next ten years?

    • Aidan Flynn

      Very good point Rick and of all things considered, that’s what I have been most impressed with. If he returns to a .250-.260 hitter but has a decent walk rate, his value could increase dramatically. Additionally, during a time in the game when contact guys are at a premium, you’re correct in that his ball-to-bat skills are a pleasure to see. It’s just that I’m still not confident that his apparent hitting gains are sustainable. I still believe he ends up in the .250-.260 range but if he can walk more and keep his K’s down, his offensive game could be very underrated to go along with a legitimate claim to being the best defensive infielder in the game. Thanks for commenting!

      • Rick M

        I’d love to see him at anything above .250 since he brings so much defense to the table. Even now if you take away 10 hits he is still close to .300. The thing is he is a #9 hitter and his job is to be an offensive pest and not the offensive show. Last night he had a nice triple and got a walk early in the game. Nice when a #9 gets a walk and even better when a #9 gets an XBH.

        Take a look at the metrics for his fielding on Fangraphs. Another reason why I have some serious doubts about certain fielding metrics.

        • Aidan Flynn

          I agree with everything you said there and I also agree in that I don’t care what the metrics say about his defense because it is some of the best I have ever seen in the game today. I think once the sample size increases for the fielding metrics, the numbers will end up correlating with our eyes. It’s just that it’s a really tiny sample for metrics that often need a year or longer to stabilize, thus producing the out-of-line numbers we see.

  • Kennythelid

    Why is the media trying to discredit what this kid is doing by calling it luck? Could it be because they can’t admit they were wrong about this guy, I like how this writer knocks what he’s doing and then in the last few lines of the article finally gives him a little credit. There have been several examples of Cuban player performing at a higher level at the Major League level than they were in the minors. Hey writers, why don’t you just put your pride and your preconceived notions aside and just admit maybe, just maybe you might have been wrong about this guy not being able to hit in the Majors.

    • Aidan Flynn

      I am a die-hard Red Sox fan that would love nothing more than to be proved wrong about Iglesias’ hitting. But my job as a writer is to look at things objectively and further research the question I am attempting to answer. By no means am I trying to take away from the season that he’s had thus far. Credit him for all the bleeders and bloops because they did happen. However, he’s basically had a months worth of at-bats this season and let’s face it, there are hundreds of players in ML history that have a had good months only to return to the players they were before. I’m not saying at all that he can’t or won’t be able to hit. But, if you observe this objectively and honestly, it’s not hard to see that his offensive gains are exaggerated up till now. I have no preconceived notion about the situation but the numbers and even just watching his actual hits show that he might have just been the beneficiary of some fortunate drops. I will credit him for everything he has done and like I said in the article, the Sox wouldn’t be in the same position without him. Maybe if he can pull an entire season with solid production, I can say I was wrong or whatever. I don’t have a problem doing that at all and I hope I am eventually proved wrong. For now, I’m just still skeptical that he can even be a .300 hitter once the bloops and bleeders stop falling in.

      • Kennythelid

        And I’ve been a Red Sox fan since 1967, what does that have to do with it. You call using terms like “magic act” when referring to what he’s accomplishing on the field objective inferring that he somehow hasn’t earned it. This kid, after last years showing at the plate, busted his butt in the offseason with our second basemen to strengthen his approach. But all you “journalists” can do is make your snarky little comments and tell all of us to wait for the other shoe to drop. Yeah, it’s a pretty sure bet he’s not going to continue to hit over .400 for his career and when he does drop below .300 at some point you can pat yourself on the back. But for now, he’s hitting well, working counts and getting on base, so shut up.

        • Aidan Flynn

          Kenny, I don’t know what you want me to say. I have not discredited anything done by the kid and my job is to observe these things with as unbiased and researched opinion as possible. I have said it is perfectly reasonable that these short gains are sustainable, but when combining both the objective (numbers) and subjective (on-field viewing/scouting) analysis, I still have doubts that Iglesias is as good as people think. You’re entitled to your opinion as am I, and ultimately, Iglesias’ continued performance will dictate things. I am just trying to educate a passionate and knowledgeable fan base with fans like yourself to the best of my ability. Sorry for any snark that may have come off in either the article or comments.

          • Kennythelid

            3 for 5 with a triple ( his second in two nights) and 2 runs scored on Friday night. Nuff Ced.

          • Aidan Flynn

            Good for him

          • Kennythelid

            Listen, Aidan, I don’t want you to say anything. I would simply like you to realize that while numbers have their place, a lot of times, you can throw them out the window. 6 years ago, the young man in question, was living in Castros Cuba. He decided at that point to risk everything, and leave everyone that he loves for an opportunity to play Major League Baseball. Neither of us know what that feels like, but I can guess that anything short of playing in the Majors he sees as a failure. I know if it were me, I would. I would think that I had let the people I left behind down. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is this is what drives Iglesias. The title of your article, in my opinion,demeans the sacrifice and hard work this kid has put in to get where he is, working hard and seeing that hard work pay off isn’t a “magic act” Aidan, and it just seems to me that sometimes (and it’s not just you) journalist forget, while they’re stacking all these numbers, that they are talking about a real person, I guess what I’m saying is, never forget to include the human heart in your equation and also never forget the odds that every Major League Baseball player have overcome just to put that uniform on. You seem to have a love for this game and the Red Sox, and that , we have in common.

          • Aidan Flynn

            I agree with you there and your point is very valid. He had another two hits last night and I’m rooting for the kid to do nothing but continue to succeed. We’ll find out sooner or later what the case may be but I wish him nothing but the best. Thanks for all your comments

          • therealraven

            Educate fans? Come on, what a pompous comment! For years fans have said “if only he could hit” and now that he does out of the woodwork crawls those attempting to dismiss what he has done.

    • stephenepeterson

      I like this line of thinking. I was one of the naysayers for quite some time. Now, I’m becoming a big Iggy fan!

  • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

    The kid is just getting his feet wet in the majors…..all those bloopers and “weak” infield hits just add to his experience at the plate. I like what I see so far…..