The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association today named Jose Iglesias Tigers Rookie of the Year. With a veteran lineup, other candidates included Hernan Perez, Jose Alvarez, Bruce Rondon, and Evan Reed.
Jose Iglesias was acquired at the July 31 trade deadline as the Tigers were losing Jhonny Peralta to a PED suspension. The three team, seven player deal cost Detroit Avisail Garcia and Brayan Villareal to pry their Rookie of the Year from the ultimate World Series champions.
In 46 games with Detroit, Iglesias batted only .259 with a .306 on-base percentage and a .348 slugging percentage. The resulting weighted on-base average of .293 and wRC+ of 80 are below average. However his defense was a revelation following the reliable, but range-limited, Peralta.
Iglesias won ESPN's Web Gem of the Year for an incomprehensible play against the White Sox on August 12. Josh Phegley hit a slow ground ball to the dead zone behind the mound and in front of the shortstop position. Iglesias charged the ball and barehanded it, but with seemingly insufficient time to make the throw. Somehow he fielded it, while falling to the turf, such that his arm was already loaded and with a flick of the wrist he threw to first.
In game 5 of the ALCS Iglesias showed extraordinary range on a popup by David Ortiz. Shifted to the right field side of second base, and with Peralta playing with his back against the Green Monster, Iglesias sprinted to left center field and as the ball seemed sure to fall to the turf, his glove appeared to stop its flight.
Jose Iglesias brings different talent to the table than most of the Tigers in the regular lineup. Only 23 years old, he bunted for a hit five times and reached base on an infield hit four times. He stole only two bases, but has the speed to grow this skill.
Iglesias is a candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award. He was a more productive hitter in 63 games with the Red Sox, providing season totals of a .303 batting average and a .349 on-base percentage. Good offense combined with amazing defense is a valuable package.
Previous winners of the Tigers Rookie of the Year award include Quintin Berry (over Drew Smyly!) in 2012, Al Alburquerque in 2011, Austin Jackson in 2010, and Rick Porcello in 2009. Quintin Berry is the only one on that list with a World Series ring. Baseball is an unpredictable game.
Iglesias was raised in Cuba and learned English in the minor leagues. He is young, articulate, bright, and charismatic. With Brad Ausmus, perhaps this is the new Tigers' look?