Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias might be known for his glove, but he may end up being a better hitter than some suspect. Iglesias’ name is frequently mentioned in the same breath as Rey Ordonez, which may be a fair comparison on the defensive side, but implying that Iglesias will end up being a lifetime .246 hitter may actually be selling the kid a bit short.
Iglesias, who is still just 24-years-old, has only played in 144 games in his career and thus far has a slash line of .274/.325/.354. In Ordonez’s first full season in the major leagues, he played in a comparable 151 games and hit .257/.289/.303. Therefore, Iglesias is already off to a better start to his career than Ordonez was. Furthermore, Ordonez was 25 before he ever played in the big leagues and never once eclipsed a .260 batting average in a full season during his nine-year career.
Before Iglesias was traded to the Tigers in July of 2013, he was actually hitting an uncharacteristic .330/.376/.409 through 63 games with the Boston Red Sox. He cooled off considerably after joining the Tigers but still ended up hitting .303 on the season through 109 games. His bat also seemed to perk up once again against his former mates in the 2013 ALCS as he hit .357 for the series.
It is, however, relevant to note that Iglesias was just a .257 hitter in the minor leagues. But he is still a very young player and has plenty of time to develop and get stronger.
Omar Vizquel, the Tigers’ new infield and first base coach, was also a bit of a light-hitter when he first came up, but he eventually figured out how to hit. Although the switch-hitting Vizquel was never a big power threat, he finished his career with a .272 lifetime average and had 2,877 hits. Moreover, he also had a batting average of .280 or better in eight of his 24 seasons in the major leagues. It is possible that Iglesias’ hitting skills could evolve in a similar fashion.
Vizquel should be the perfect mentor for Iglesias as the legendary shortstop will be able to give him advice on both sides of the ball. The Tigers have also brought in a terrific hitting coach in Wally Joyner who should have an immediate impact on Iglesias’ offensive game as well this coming season. Rumor has it that Iglesias also sought out a few hitting pointers from Tigers legend Al Kaline this spring. To put it simply, there are plenty of people within the Tigers’ organization who will be able to help Iglesias take his hitting skills to the next level.
Iglesias doesn’t seem to have too much trouble making contact and appears to be the type of player who will never exceed 100 strikeouts per season. It is probably not too much of a stretch of the imagination to suggest that he could consistently hit in the .275-.300 range with five to 10 home runs per year.
The Tigers plan on keeping Iglesias at shortstop for a long time, and everyone knows the type of defense he will provide. But it should be fun to see what kind of a hitter he can develop into.