Iglesias wasn't guaranteed to work in the long run

Sam Galanis
Contributing Writer

It’s clear that some fans are pretty irked over the departure of Jose Iglesias, boy wonder, for pitcher Jake Peavy. But Zach Stoloff of NESN wrote a piece today that deserves some looking into.

Stoloff and NESN lay it all out right in the headline: “Jose Iglesias was never going to be viable major league hitter despite fluke hot streak this season.” And you have to hear Stoloff out because he makes some great points.

First of all, the lure of Iglesias for the Red Sox had always been his stellar defense. But they had never gotten the offensive production out of him to justify putting him on the field. Until this season.

Iglesias came onto the team to fill in for a concussed Stephen Drew and shocked everyone when his batting average continued to hover in the .400s. He never even broke .300 in his time at Pawtucket, and all of a sudden, he was always on base. Iglesias seemed like he was finally the player everyone wanted him to be.

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

But in his last 13 games with the Red Sox, he hit just .116 with no extra base hits and no walks. He was coming back down to earth. In fact, in his 215 at-bats, he only had 12 extra base hits, and one home run.

Stoloff brings up probably the biggest deciding factor, and that’s the BABIP. To quote him exactly:

“Iglesias owned a .441 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) over that time. For those who need a quick primer on sabermetrics, BABIP is a player’s batting average discounting at-bats that end in strikeouts or home runs. On the aggregate, a hitter’s BABIP, no matter who they are, will always trend back to .300. A player with a BABIP below .300 is unlucky and you can expect his performance to improve, while a BABIP above .300 means a player is probably performing above their ability.”

You really can’t argue with facts like those. Iglesias was never a .400-plus hitter. Does that mean he’ll never be a solid batter? The Red Sox were done waiting to find that answer, so the Detroit Tigers get to try their hand now. Maybe he’ll end up benefitting them, but the Sox won’t necessarily be sorry. They still have a lot of young prospects like Xander Bogaerts to take his place.

Iglesias will be missed in the field, but the Sox’s starting rotation was hurting more than the infield. Not to mention, they didn’t want to find out if Iglesias performance at the plate lately was a slump or if it really was a fluke, so they left that to Detroit.

The Sox had a great run with Iglesias, but hopefully the acquisition of Peavy will put them in a more secure place for the playoffs.

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