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Detroit Tigers: Should Jose Iglesias or Erick Aybar Start at Shortstop?

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Aug 19, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Erick Aybar (15) makes a throw to first in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Erick Aybar (15) makes a throw to first in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila recently brought in Erick Aybar as a bench and utility upgrade. While the former Angel is just that, he should be starting over Jose Iglesias.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias enjoyed a wildly successful season in 2015. In 120 games, the 26-year-old hit .300 with a .347 on-base percentage. He also collected 44 runs scored, 23 RBI, 17 doubles, 11 stolen bases, three triples and a pair of home runs. What’s more, Iglesias provided his trademark dazzling defense.

However, things haven’t been the same in 2016 for the shortstop. In 106 contests, he has improved his run scored, RBI and home totals, but is generally struggling.

He’s currently on the 15-day disabled list, and will have to contend with new teammate Erick Aybar when he returns.

Aybar isn’t having a stellar offensive season by any stretch, but his numbers are still solid. What’s more, he comes with an excellent track record. With a Gold Glove and an All-Star Game appearance on his resume, the shortstop has enjoyed a productive career.

Here’s a look at the two players stats this season.

Player A:

.240 batting average, .292 on-base percentage, .604 OPS. 28 runs scored, 26 RBI, three stolen bases, two triples and two home runs. .281 BABIP, -0.6 WAR. -7.4 UZR, -7 DRS.

Player B:

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.249 batting average, .297 on-base percentage, .625 OPS. 48 runs scored, 27 RBI, five stolen bases and four home runs. .264 BABIP, 1.3 WAR. 10.2 UZR, 3 DRS.

The two players are obviously very similar where offensive numbers are concerned. However, Player B excels comparatively on defense. Based on this, it is easy to see why Iglesias is Player B, but Aybar may prove to be the superior offensive option.

The former Halos shortstop spent most of the season generally hitting towards the bottom of an atrocious Atlanta lineup that entered Friday with a Major-League low 435 runs. On the other hand, Iglesias has had the benefit of batting in Detroit’s stellar batting order.

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Jun 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (center) is greeted by teammates after hitting a two-run homer against the Chicago White Sox during the third inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Generally hitting ninth, Iglesias has had the benefit of scoring a significant amount of runs getting on base ahead of the likes of Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera.

It may be that manager Brad Ausmus goes with a platoon. Aybar would serve as the offensive option, while Iglesias would be the glove-first shortstop. It may also be that Ausmus decides to go with the hot hand.

As of late, that’s been Aybar.

Here are the player’s numbers since the beginning of July.

Aybar:

.276 batting average, .321 on-base percentage, .386 slugging percentage, .707 OPS. 15 RBI, 13 runs scored 10 walks, six doubles, two triples, two home runs and a stolen base.

Iglesias:

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.231 batting average, .252 on-base percentage, .289 slugging percentage, .541 OPS. Eight RBI, 12 runs scored, two walks, four doubles and a home run.

If the Tigers offense continues to struggle to score runs, Aybar should be getting more starts. His numbers since the beginning of July signal a return to the form he displayed in Anaheim.

Detroit’s offense hasn’t been perfect lately, but they would be a truly fearsome unit if Aybar stays productive and Nick Castellanos and Cameron Maybin return from the disabled list.

If Ausmus and the Tigers need to score more, Aybar should start. However, Iglesias won’t exactly ride the bench given excellent glove work. It will be interesting to see who garners the lion’s share of the starts down the stretch.

At the moment, Aybar seems the slightly better option at this point given his offensive prowess.

Next: Injuries Mounting

Who do you think should start at shortstop the rest of the way? Should Ausmus platoon the two?

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