Monday June 3rd, 2013

Jose Iglesias is considered one of the game's most spectacular up-and-coming defenders. A glove whiz whom the Boston Red Sox consider their shortstop of the future. He isn't exactly known for his hitting, however.

Last year, in 77 plate appearances for the Red Sox, Iglesias hit just .118/.200/.191 — that's eight hits, three of them for extra bases — for an OPS topped by 16 pitchers (minimum 50 plate appearances).

This year, it's been something of a different story. Coming into Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees, the 23-year-old human highlight film was hitting .431/.455/.529 in 55 plate appearances while filling in during the disabled list stints of shortstop Stephen Drew and third baseman Will Middlebrooks. He added a hit Sunday night and it was a big one: a fifth-inning solo home run off Hiroki Kuroda that turned a 1-0 game into a 2-0 Red Sox lead. Check out the GIF:


It was probably just a coincidence the ESPN broadcasting crew was interviewing Yankees manager Joe Girardi during Iglesias' plate appearance rather than picking a particularly unimposing hitter whose time at the plate could be talked over. Those decisions are made in advance and Iglesias was leading off the top of the fifth inning. Case in point: Red Sox manager John Farrell was interviewed to begin the bottom of the fourth.

In any event, the homer, which was Iglesias' first of the season, must have altered the barometric pressure in the Bronx. Soon afterward, the rain, whose mere threat delayed the start of the game by 50 minutes, finally began falling. Just as it got heavy, David Ortiz connected for a towering solo shot off Kuroda — complete with bat flip — and two batters later, umpires halted play with one out in the top of the sixth, with the score 3-0.

Play never resumed before the umps finally called it, giving the Red Sox (35-23) a win that swung the weekend series in their favor and put them 2 1/2 games up on the Orioles (32-25) and three games up on the Yankees (31-25) in the AL East.

So has Iglesias turned the corner with his hitting? He may have learned a thing or two, perhaps even to the point the Red Sox can look to him succeeding Drew as the starter next season without him being a total zero with the bat. But 57 plate appearances isn't enough to prove it, not when it's being driven by an unsustainable .512 batting average on balls in play and accompanied by a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. To say nothing of a minor league track record that includes 916 plate appearances at Triple-A Pawtucket with a .244/.296/.292 line. That said, if Iglesias can approximate what he's done over an entire body of 140 major league plate appearances dating back to 2011 — .260/.312/.362 with two homers and a 25-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio — he'll be playable on an everyday basis, and the Red Sox will justifiably be thrilled.

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