I know there are fellow Boston Red Sox bloggers here at Rant Sports that have said Will Middlebrooks is the most overrated Red Sox player or think he needs to be sent down to the minors, but I am of the belief Jose Iglesias‘ current form is much more fool’s gold than the makes of lasting success.
I am somewhere between a sabermetrician and an old-school baseball guy. I desperately want the NL to hold out and never add the DH, but I also believe the pitcher’s win stat needs to be brought behind the barn and put out of its misery.
Iglesias has been on an incredible hot streak, but even more incredible than his hot streak has been the amount of luck he has found during it. The shortstop is hitting an incredible .438 with a .487 OBP, but even more incredible is the unreal BABIP of .500.
Yes, every other ball Iglesias puts into play results in a hit. He will undoubtedly regress toward the mean of around .300, but even if he keeps it up around .350, how much damage will he really do?
Of Iglesias’ 46 hits this season, only 11 have been for extra bases, with one home run and just seven RBIs. Now compare that to the struggling Middlebrooks. He has just 39 hits this season, but 21 of those have been for extra bases, nine have left the park, and he has 25 RBIs.
To be fair, Iglesias has a WAR of 2.0 while Middlebrooks’ is almost at -1.0, but that comes in large part due to Iglesias’ defense rather than his unsustainable average.
Now, let us look at Middlebrooks’ BABIP and work in some “regression to the mean”. He is currently batting .192 and reaching base at a .228 clip, but has a BABIP of just .221. Let’s say he adds just 50 points to his BABIP — that would result in about 50 extra hits in the 203 at-bat sample size so far this season.
Had that happened, he would be around 50 RBIs and 40 extra base hits. If Middlebrooks just gets a little luckier on balls in play, he is by far a better choice than Iglesias.
I will concede that during the hot streak, Iglesias needs to get playing time, but not at the cost of Middlebrooks. Iglesias can get a game or two a week at short, a game or two a week at third, and a game every couple weeks at second and be valuable. Middlebrooks will break out of his slump eventually so long as he is getting at-bats, but you can’t break a slump while wasting away on the bench.
Follow Shaun on twitter @shaunkernahan.