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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Jose Iglesias' hitting streak is a sham

By David Schoenfield

Entering Tuesday's doubleheader, Boston Red Sox infielder Jose Iglesias is riding a 17-game hitting streak and hitting .438 in 89 at-bats, a streak that has caught everyone off guard considering that much like former Cuban compatriot Rey Ordonez, Iglesias is known for his fancy glove work not his bat.

With a career .257 average in the minors (and little power), has Iglesias figured something out at the plate? I checked the video of each hit during his 17-game streak -- 26 hits in all. Working backward ...

--2-1, 91-mph fastball off Brian Matusz
Slow chopper in the hole to shortstop, beats throw to first.

--1-2, 79-mph splitter off Freddy Garcia
Infield hit, chopper off home plate that J.J. Hardy had to charge.

Jose Iglesias
Jose Iglesias, known more for his defensive prowess, has been getting attention for his bat lately.
--0-1, 91-mph fastball off Chris Tillman
Bunt single.

--0-2, 93-mph fastball off Chris Tillman
Lined softly past first baseman who was playing well off the line, low and away pitch.

--1-2, 85-mph slider off Roberto Hernandez
Eight-hopper through third base/shortstop hole.

--1-2, 93-mph fastball off Roberto Hernandez
Blooper off the fists into Bermuda Triangle in right-center.

--0-2, 89-mph fastball off Joe Blanton
Infield single in the hole to shortstop.

--0-0, 90-mph fastball off Robert Coello
High inside fastball lined off the middle of the Green Monster.

--2-1 90-mph cutter off Jerome Williams
Slow tapper off the end of the bat that sneaked into center field.

--1-2, 91-mph fastball off Jerome Williams
Flare to right off his fists.

--1-1, 95-mph fastball off Garrett Richards
Four-hopper up the middle.

--0-1, 87-mph slider off Garrett Richards
Slider down the middle, lined hard off the glove of the third baseman.

--2-2, 95-mph fastball off Derek Holland
Fastball right in the sweet spot, pulled hard on ground to left field.

--2-2, 94-mph fastball off Robbie Ross
Down the middle, blooper to right.

--2-1, 90-mph fastball off Justin Grimm
Liner into right-center gap, stretched into a double.

--0-0, 93-mph fastball off Ross Wolf
Soft line drive to center, bad read by Craig Gentry.

--0-0, 92-mph fastball off Hiroki Kuroda
Right down the middle, hit 4-5 rows deep in left field for a home run.

--3-2, 86-mph slider off Adam Warren
Blooper to left, terrible route by Vernon Wells.

--0-1, 92-mph fastball off CC Sabathia
Hard liner to center.

--1-2, 80-mph slider off CC Sabathia
Hard grounder up the middle.

--0-2, 92-mph fastball off Jeremy Horst
High fastball, blooper down right-field line that the second baseman overran.

--3-2, 89-mph fastball off Chad Durbin
High fastball, hit off the wall down left-field line for a double.

--0-0, 91-mph fastball off Antonio Bastardo
Down the middle, ripped to left field corner for a double.

--2-2, 92-mph fastball off Cliff Lee
Infield single to Jimmy Rollins.

--3-2, 84-mph fastball off Tyler Cloyd
High fastball, worm burner past Rollins.

Of the 26 hits, I'd classify nine of them as hard hit, maybe 10 depending on your definition. Iglesias isn't a fast runner but he seems to get out of the box well and that's helped him beat out a couple of those infield hits.

But the stats and the video evidence show this is a player hitting in a lot of luck. He did hit the one home run but he clearly lacks the strength to drive the ball and he took advantage of some meatballs thrown to him. He's been fun to watch and can really pick it at shortstop (or third base, where he's also getting some playing time), but the bat is still suspect. The comparison to Ordonez seems apt: A defensive wizard who can play on a team that can carry his bat. Ordonez played in the heart of the steroid era so his weakness at the plate was amplified, so Iglesias has that advantage. The hits are falling now but they won't continue.

(Note: After I started this, I saw that Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus had a similar idea. He has GIFs comparing Iglesias hits to Iglesias outs. Can you tell the difference?)