Jose Iglesias returns to the Tigers’ lineup after missing the entire 2014 season due to fractures in both of his legs, and his return is much anticipated by a team starved for defense. Iglesias figures to provide that quality in abundance. In his short time with the team in the second half of the 2013 season, he provided some of the most spectacular, highlight reel quality plays in the field.
If defensive metrics are to be believed, Iglesias was on pace to lead the league among shortstops with a UZR/ 150 of 18.3 runs saved over the 2012- 2013 seasons. But we won’t need any numbers to judge how exciting Iglesias is when he flashes the leather. Just the thought of him in the every day lineup for a full season is exciting.
Yoenis Cespedes is another Cuban player who brings a big defensive upgrade to the team. He led the American league in outfield assists with 26 over the 2013- 2014 seasons, including some of the spectacular variety. Add some solid offense, with 89 runs scored and 100 RBI’s in 2014, and the club should have another legitimate two way player. That is something that has been scarce, recently.
Ian Kinsler is the one Tiger player who was a big plus both offensively and defensively in 2014. He led all second basemen in defensive runs saved (DRS), led the American league in fangraphs’ base running runs (BsR), is one of the most aggressive runners on the bases in the game, and led the Tigers’ position players with a 5.4 fWAR for the 2014 season.
Kinsler could be in for some regression in his fielding numbers in 2015, but if he can get on base more often, that will only add to the excitement. Being paired with Iglesias, the Tigers should have an exciting keystone combination.
Anthony Gose is another player who is known for his defense first only, and the Tigers are counting on him to give them a boost in the outfield which ranked 13th of 15 teams in the American league in outfield defense. That, combined with Kansas City’s league leading outfield defense, gave the Royals an edge of 75 to 95 runs, depending on the metrics you like to use.
Gose was on pace for 20.3 runs saved, using UZR/ 150 (insert obligatory disclaimer about small samples with defensive metrics). He likes to play shallow in center field, an indication that he is very confident about being able to run down any balls hit over his head. And he dives.
Miguel Cabrera brings a different kind of excitement to the game. I don’t think any further words are necessary on this one.
Which player do you think will be the most exciting to watch on the Tigers in 2015?