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.
--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?)