Detroit Tigers Jose Iglesias durability a concern for now and future
By Matt Pelc
Editor’s Note: Because of the Memorial Day holiday, Detroit Tigers’ Heroes and Zeroes will return next week.
As fans of the Detroit Tigers, we have a lot of concerns about this team both short- and long-term. These concerns range from their chances of winning a fifth straight AL Central title, or at least clinching a wild-card, to will this team become an annual cellar-dweller or remain competitive for years to come.
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One of the keys to all of these concerns, whether they trend upward or downward, are the fortunes of their star shortstop Jose Iglesias.
The Tigers were able to win a division title in 2014 without the services of the dynamic player, who joined the team near the 2013 trading deadline from Boston.
During his brief stint with the Tigers in the latter half of the regular season and 2013 playoffs, Iglesias showed defense that is not often seen–especially here in Detroit where defensive skills have been at a premium since the days of Tram-Sweet Lou. He had hit .300 with the Red Sox leading up to the trade, but was not as productive at the plate with the Tigers.
Still Iglesias always seemed to be a defensive-first player. While on the surface the trade seemed to protect the Tigers from the impending PED suspension of former player Jhonny Peralta it may have also served as a way for GM Dave Dombrowski to change the makeup of the team. Since the arrival of Iggy, the Tigers have gone defense/speed in many transactions including the signings of Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose and the trade for Yoenis Cespedes.
Iglesias is under team control through 2019, so his immediate future is tied to the Tigers. This year while coming back from the shin problems that washed out his 2014 season, he seemingly makes one very good play per game and at least one astonishing play each week.
What’s more, his offense continues to impress. Jose has been at the top of the AL leaderboard in batting average at a couple of points this season. He has dropped a bit but is still sporting a .333 average. This would put him in the top six in the category, however he does not have enough at-bats to qualify for the list.
And that leads us to the Jose Iglesias concerns because he seems to be prone to various injuries. Although he has not been affected by the shin problems this season, he has experienced lost time because of a groin strain and most recently because of a knee contusion.
The knee problems have kept him out of the lineup that last two games, both losses, and without Miguel Cabrera, the lineup was listless and punchless in a 4-0 Memorial Day loss to the terrible Oakland Athletics.
Brad Ausmus has said there is no DL stint imminent for Iggy–not that we can take the Tigers at their word with injuries–but still if this guy can’t stay on the field that is a problem for the 2015 Detroit Tigers.
Consider this alarming statistic: The Tigers are 24-14 in games in which Iggy plays this year, 2-7 when he does not. 2-7! Get well soon for Godsakes!
Andrew Romine does okay in relief of Iglesias, but he does not have the range or the flash at short. From a pure entertainment standpoint, Romine is a big letdown. He is also much more disadvantaged at the plate.
Long-term, as the Tigers build the kind of team they want going forward, especially considering the large number of free agents and arbitration-eligible players they have at the end of this year, Jose Iglesias could be a cornerstone to the team transitioning to a new era.
If he cannot be counted on to play 140-150 games per year, the Detroit Tigers’ fortunes in the future will become even murkier.