Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The absurdity of Jose Iglesias' .431 batting average

Jose Iglesias has been a highly touted up and coming Red Sox prospect for years.  He's always had a reputation for spectacular defense, but his weak hitting has kept him primarily in the minors thus far (it's worth noting that he's still only 23 years old, a perfectly normal age for a player to break into the majors).  In 68 at bats for Boston last season Iglesias batted .118.

At the moment Iglesias' 2013 batting average with the Red Sox stands at a ridiculous .431.  That's more than double the average of injured Will Middlebrooks (.201), who Iglesias has been filling in for at third base (rather than his natural shortstop position).  In fact, before regular shortstop Stephen Drew's huge 4-5 game last night, Iglesias was hitting for a better average than Drew (.213) and Middlebrooks combined.  The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham noted this morning that Iglesias' average is the highest in baseball for players with at least 50 plate appearances; reigning triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera is second at .370, sixty-one points behind Iglesias.

Does that mean Iglesias should keep the third base job, or be given Drew's shortstop position when Middlebrooks is healthy?  Because of Iglesias' current hot streak at the plate, Boston manager John Farrell announced today that they won't rush to recall Middlebrooks from his rehab assignment in Pawtucket, but will instead wait until he starts hitting well.

None of this is going to last.  Iglesias only has 58 at bats this season.  That is an incredibly small sample.  In 1209 career plate appearances at various levels throughout the minors he's got a career average of .257.  Abraham also points out that Iglesias is batting .511 on balls put in play, while the major league average is only .300; meaning he's had an incredible amount of luck in those 58 AB putting the ball where the defense is not.  But, even if when he regresses closer to his career norm, a .250 hitting Iglesias is still probably more valuable than Will Middlebrooks' .200.  Of course Middlebrooks may also return to form from last year, when he batted .288.


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