By Jeff Louderback
On the same day that Will Middlebrooks was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to work on his plate discipline and regain his confidence, Jose Iglesias was 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two runs in Boston’s 11-4 rout of the Colorado Rockies.
Though Iglesias appears to be the long-term solution at shortstop, his remarkable offensive production gives the bottom of the Red Sox lineup valuable depth while Middlebrooks tries to figure it out with the PawSox.
If Iglesias remains at third base for the rest of the season, it is feasible that he could win a Gold Glove there, which would be intriguing since he had played the position in just one game – at Pawtucket a day before he was called back to the Red Sox active roster.
With 126 plate appearances, Iglesias does not qualify for the batting title race, at least not yet. If he remains in the starting lineups and continues to produce, he is a favorite for the American League Rookie of the Year. If he stays in the starting lineup the rest of the season, Iglesias should have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
Though he will not hit .400, Iglesias contending for a battle title would be a significant feat, especially since he batted .118 in a brief stint with the Red Sox last season.
That Iglesias has a .434 average after 113 at-bats and 126 plate appearances in impressive, but what is equally astonishing is his slugging percentage (.575) and OPS (1.059). He is squaring up on the ball and hitting line drives. Last night’s double was his ninth of the season to accompany two triples and one home run.
If Iglesias did not get a hit in his next 50 at-bats, his average would still be .301. Eventually, Iglesias will cool off. What he has shown, though, is that he can hit Major League pitching, and he warrants a spot in the starting lineup and not just a utility role.
Stephen Drew had two hits (including a triple) on Tuesday night, yet he is stil batting just .225. Red Sox manager John Farrell is a Drew advocate, so he is likely to remain in the lineup, but Iglesias’ performance – plus the presence of Xander Bogaerts at Pawtucket, and Middlebrooks, if he regains his hitting stroke – gives Boston options if Drew is sidelined with an injury.