By: Will Burchfield
There’s no doubt that Jose Iglesias’ value to the Tigers is predicated on his defense. But when he’s hitting like he has of late, hitting like he knows he can, he gives this team a serious boost.READ MORE: Michigan Gas Prices Increase 19 Cents Ahead Of Memorial Day
Iglesias picked up three more hits on Wednesday night in the Tigers’ 5-1 victory over the Mariners, including a big two-out, two-run double in the second inning. That’s the kind of month it’s been for the Venezuelan shortstop, who’s hitting .356 since the start of June. His season average now sits at .258.
That’s quite the turnaround for a guy who entered the month batting .211. The bulk of that debility occurred during May, when Iglesias collected just 13 hits and saw his average fall by almost 70 points. He flipped the calendar and – bang – flipped the script at the plate.
Not that he’s done anything differently or changed his approach. More than anything else, Iglesias pointed to the randomness of baseball as the reason for his offensive resurgence.
“All you can ask for in this game is to be healthy and play every day. You can’t control hits but you can control effort and good at-bats, so that’s what I’m doing consistently. Tonight, I was able to find some holes,” he said.
Fair enough. But it certainly seems like Iglesias has been hitting the ball harder recently, fortunate placement or not. When he’s doing that, he adds length to an already fearsome lineup and helps turn things over in the nine-hole.
“Hitting ninth is like hitting leadoff,” Iglesias said, borrowing an old baseball adage. “I got Kins, Maybin and Miggy behind me so obviously every time I put myself on base I got a chance to score a run for the team.”READ MORE: Family Of Justin Shilling Files Lawsuit Against Oxford Schools
As sudden as this outburst may seem for Iglesias, it’s hardly an aberration within the context of his career. He hit .300 over 120 games last year, earning a trip to the All-Star Game in the process, and hit .303 over 109 games the year before that. He’s never been a power threat by any means, but Iglesias came into this season with a clear track record of offensive success in the big leagues.
He’s mostly a singles hitter, mixing in the occasional double for good measure. And his modest but steady numbers are reflective of his approach at the plate.
“It’s simple. Every at-bat is different but obviously try to be on base for the guys and score runs,” Iglesias said. “Sometimes, like today, when I get a chance to drive them in, just a get a good pitch and do that.”
Iglesias, by no fault of his own, is often viewed as a one-dimensional player – partly because he doesn’t post flashy statistics, partly because he’s so darn good at defense. Indeed, for his bat to gain notice over his glove, Iglesias would have to rake like 2012-Miguel Cabrera.
Even the Tigers, it seems, keep their expectations low for Iglesias on offense. In a lineup filled with potent hitters, they don’t rely on their number-nine hitter to make much of an impact. Rather, they depend on his range, sure hands and strong arm at short, and take everything else as a bonus.
And that’s likely fine for Iglesias. He doesn’t seem to care about outside expectations, doesn’t seem to put stock in what other people think he can or can’t be.
“I know what I can bring to the table. I know I’m going to be my best to help the team and have quality at-bats all year long. That’s pretty much what I can do and what I’m going to do for the rest of the season,” Iglesias said.MORE NEWS: Data: Michigan Sees Decrease In Evictions In 2021, But Many Residents Struggle To Find Homes
And, apart from a difficult month of May, it’s what he’s done for the bulk of his career. Iglesias hasn’t broken out at the plate recently – he’s come back to life.