The Detroit Tigers shortstop, Jose Iglesias, knows how to put on a show.
In 2013, the Detroit Tigers acquired Iglesias in a complicated trade that involved Avisail Garcia, Jake Peavy, Brayan Villarreal, some prospects, the Chicago White Sox, and the Boston Red Sox. At the time, Iglesias was with the Red Sox. The Tigers need him because their shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, was suspended for 50 games due to PED violations.
Jose Iglesias is a Cuban baseball player who was signed in 2009 by the Boston Red Sox. At the time, Iglesias was 19 years old. Prior to the signing, he played in the Cuban National Series for the Vaqueros de la Habana team. He played for two years, when he was 16 and 17 years old. Once he arrived the US, he quickly moved his way through the Red Sox organization making his debut in the MLB in 2011 at the young age of 21.
Iglesias proved to be the player the Tigers needed. He added youth, speed, and agility to a team that was beginning to get “old.” He immediately impressed fans with his acrobatic plays that seemed almost superhuman. His ability as a defensive star comes from his speed transferring the ball from the glove to his throwing hand. He is able to make the transfer in less than half of a second and he has done it in midair.
His former teammate, Torii Hunter said about a flying play Iglesias made in 2013 against the White Sox: “Iglesias, man, since he’s been here, he’s been making some plays. You’re talking about plays that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
His defense in 2013 was accompanied by strong offense. In 2013, he batted .303 in combination with the Red Sox (.330) and the Tigers (.259). He stole 5 bases that year and hit 3 home runs. The fans, media, and Tigers recognized that they won the trade especially since he finished in second place in the AL Rookie of the Year vote that same year.
While it seemed like Iglesias was the star the Tigers needed, 2014 proved that he had a weakness to overcome first. Despite his acrobatics and agility, Iglesias did not play at all in 2014 due to issues with shin splits. Since the Tigers were committed to Iglesias, they used a platoon at shortstop that year, with Andrew Romine and Eugenio Suarez taking on the substitute duties. The pair held down the position but with nowhere near Iglesias’s style.
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Waiting paid off for the Tigers. In 2015, Iglesias returned from his injury. Any doubts that fans and the media had about his physical abilities and durabilities were set aside once he showed off his skills. He came back faster and stronger than he was in 2013. His batting numbers improved to .300/.347/.370 with an OPS of .717. He stole 11 bases and earned 25 walks. He also hit 3 triples and 2 home runs. He earned an invitation to his first ever All-Star Game due to his 1.5 WAR.
Detroit Tigers fans have been spoiled with top middle infield combinations. In the 1980s, the best double play combination in baseball included Alan Trammell at shortstop and Lou Whitaker at second base. The current combination of Iglesias and Ian Kinsler is frequently compared to the iconic 80s team. The Iglesias-Kinsler team has been touted as the best double-play combination in the MLB by ESPN. After turning 76 double plays in 2015, the duo rightfully deserved the nod. Even though the two players did not earn Gold Glove awards at their positions, they have proven to be a deadly team for batters who hit anywhere near them.
Off the field, Iglesias remains relatively quiet. He occasionally posts on Instagram with his teammates and his family. His son Jose, Jr. was born in 2011. The adorable boy has kept his father focused on baseball. Iglesias becomes a free agent in 2019, so Tigers fans will be able to enjoy his highlight reel plays for a few more season.
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