This started off as a post about who should be our future Shortstop and now it seems the claim can be made that Jose Iglesias might be our future 3rd baseman instead. With the recent demotion of Will Middlebrooks let’s take a look at the journey and success of someone definitely taking full advantage of a possible once in a lifetime opportunity.
Our beloved Sox have had several people assigned to be SS over the years but nobody has been guaranteed a spot on the roster. Our last real SS was Nomar and since his departure it has been a slow paced race to fill his shoes. The list spans 9 years, 7 different starters, and a total of 24 different names. They range from Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria to Alex Gonzalez, Alex Cora, Julio Lugo then Marco Scutaro and Mike Aviles and most recently Stephen Drew. Now enter Jose Iglesias.
The Sox signed him in 2009 and we all heard about his defensive heroics and how his offense would clearly be his downfall on when, and if, we were to see him in a game at Fenway. He was called up for his major league debut in 2011. Sent back down to Triple-A ball in Pawtucket where he hits a mere .257 yet he was recalled again in 2012. In 2012 he hit a very shameful .118 in the bigs and again was sent back down. Starting the 2013 season on the opening day roster, because of Stephen Drew’s injury, he was optioned down yet again after Drew was activated on April 10. Then on May 24th another injury plagued the Sox and in to save the day once more is Jose Iglesias.
Whatever happened down in Pawtucket it was something that he did not want to see again. Where did he all of a sudden learn to hit? He is not the fastest guy on the team yet can he beat out infield hits with the best of them. Why were we so afraid he wouldn’t make the roster for years?
Since his return to the roster he has put up massive numbers. He rode a 17 game hit streak (6th longest in Red Sox rookie history) and had been on base safely in 24 straight games. He also held a 21 game streak with at least 1 hit in each but 1 of those games. He had 11 extra base hits in 88 games this year in Pawtucket but has 12 extra base hits in 35 games in Boston.
Jose Iglesias appeared poised to become the everyday shortstop with Drew’s line only at .225/.310/.383 with an OPS of .692 while Iglesias is hitting .434/.484/.575 and an OPS of 1.059. Iglesias is also proving he is one of the great rookies as he has gone 43 for 100 in first 100 at bats of the short season. Only 2 other rookies since 1964 have done this, Luke Scott in 2006 and Tony Oliva in 1964. Just to add more lore to the name he also has achieved something that no Red Sox rookie has done since 1999, and that rookie was Trot Nixon. Who wouldn’t want to be compared to Trot? He has reached base in each of the 27 games where he has recorded an at bat.
Jose Iglesias has not been highly touted as an offensive machine but more a defensive great. The fact that his defense is still one of the best in the league and his offense seems to be coming along quite well it is appearing that the Red Sox may finally have someone that can take up residency between 2nd and 3rd and wear the big shoes left behind by Nomar Garciaparra. Only time will tell, but I for one want a stable name at SS.
Then we have the dilemma we are now faced with at the corner of the infield, the left corner, 3rd base. Will Middlebrooks looked to be our everyday 3rd baseman and was last year after the departure of Youk. He was the rookie putting up fantastic numbers and had all our minds at ease about dear old Kevin being traded away. He then suffered a season ending injury but came back this year ready to pick up where he left off in his rookie season, unfortunately that did not happen. Middlebrooks had some shining moments but has yet to amount to anything permanent this season thus Iglesias was able to get yet another opportunity and alternate between SS with Drew and 3B with Middlebrooks. While Middlebrooks did suffer a back strain at one point he is hitting a pathetic .192 and ultimately led to John Farrell optioning him down to Pawtucket and awarding Iglesias the full time role at the corner. Now how do you say thank you to your manager after this wonderful news? How about go 3 for 5 with 2 singles, a double, and an RBI that helped the Red Sox tally up 20 hits in an 11-4 win over the visiting Rockies.
Whether he is our future SS or Middlebrooks’ replacement at 3B , one way or another I personally do not see Iglesias making that trip back down to Pawtucket any time soon. He has impressed who he needs to impress and has not taken this opportunity lightly. He will be a household name soon enough, and not just for Boston fans but, for all of baseball.