Iglesias has helped the Tigers forget all about Jhonny Peralta

Rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias has upgraded the Tiger infield defense tremendously since coming over in a trade with the Red Sox in August.

Rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias has upgraded the Tiger infield defense tremendously since coming over in a trade with the Red Sox in August.

A few months ago, I argued how much better off the Detroit Tigers would be with a good defensive shortstop, even one that couldn’t hit a lick, instead of Jhonny Peralta, who has little range. Not many agreed at the time, since Peralta was having a career year.

Then Peralta got suspended for PEDs, and the prospect of his departure for the remainder of the season forced Dave Dombrowski to get serious about finding a replacement shortstop. Perhaps he would have engineered the three-way trade that brought Jose Iglesias to Detroit regardless, since Peralta’s contract was going to expire anyway at the end of this year. Who knows? The Boston Red Sox were looking to add a pitcher and thought Iglesias expendable since Xander Bogaerts is their shortstop of the very near future. In any event, the three-way deal that cost Detroit Avisail Garcia got done.

After just a few weeks with the Tigers, Iglesias has made every fan forget about Peralta, and rightly so. Peralta will get a job somewhere else next year, probably as a third baseman, which is where he belongs, and he’ll probably finish his career as a DH, which is the most he can hope for a few years down the road. But now the Tigers have a star at short for a long time to come.

It’s very difficult to convince anyone how important defensive range can be — unless you see the difference in as stark a way as Tiger fans have seen it since early August. Iglesias is a revelation, and he’s already prompting conversations about who the best defensive Tigers shortstop in recent memory is. No longer are so many ground balls getting through the left side of the infield, or up the middle, and double plays are getting turned faster than leaves in autumn. Iglesias is a sensation, a whirling dervish with tremendous range, acrobatic and sure-handed. No need to argue esoteric stats like range factor or defensive WAR: the difference between Peralta and Iglesias is as plain as day. Just watch.

Iglesias makes the Tigers a much better team. Not only does he transform the infield defense, he adds a few other things the Tigers desperately needed: the ability to steal a base, to bunt for a hit, and the energy of youth among the club’s phalanx of veterans. He’s a missing piece that fits in perfectly. With him, the club’s pitching has suddenly gotten a lot better; the plodding, bashing Tigers have become a much more balanced, versatile offense; and the kid is hitting surprisingly well. Like Ozzie Smith, whatever he brings with the stick is a bonus. His speed and defense more than compensate for the power downgrade from Peralta.

Iglesias will help the Tigers in the playoffs. And he gives the club a chance to be the first in MLB history to win the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year in the same season. Wil Myers is probably the favorite to win the ROY, mostly because he’s had more hype all along. The much-heralded Tampa Bay outfielder is putting together a solid second half since his call-up from the minors, hitting around .290 with some power. But if you look closely, Myers’ OPS is only slightly higher than the one Iglesias has put together with infield hits, walks, and occasional gap power. Iglesias has more at-bats than Myers, and his defensive contributions to two first-place teams this season is immeasurable. Pitchers Martin Perez and Chris Archer will also get a few ROY votes, but really it comes down to Myers vs. Iglesias, and if I had a vote, it’s Jose all the way.

Regardless of the outcome of the ROY vote, though, I’m fairly certain that the trade that brought Iglesias to town will be long remembered as one of the best in recent Tigers history. As the Tigers begin to peak as a contender, with many stars reaching the wrong side of 30, they need to start mixing in young players. With Iglesias, Nick Castellanos, and Bruce Rondon, they now seem capable of remaining contenders for years to come without having to tear the team apart and rebuild.

It may be that eventually Peralta’s PED mistake may be thought of in the same way that Wally Pipp’s headache is, as a big blessing in a thin disguise. Iglesias is no Lou Gehrig, that’s not my point, but the new shortstop is one hell of a find.

8 replies on “Iglesias has helped the Tigers forget all about Jhonny Peralta

  • Jack Ross

    Hey, What an article. I believe as you do, and couldn’t add one more thing to it. You have just found another follower. Loved it….

  • Jack Ross

    BTW, Charlie “Paw Paw” Maxwell was one of my favorite players as a kid, along with the “Yankee” killer, Frank Lary….I have referred so much to Charlie, that my Grand Kids call me “Paw Paw”…… lol…. I am from Michigan, but way down there. In fact as a boy of 10, a friend of mine heard that a Tiger had just moved into the area. I lived in Wyandotte at the time. We walked up to the house, about half a block away, and knocked… A beautiful Lady answered the door, and we ask if a “Tiger” lived here. She Yelled, “AL” someone hhere to see you. This skinny kid came to the door, and I thought, wow, I can out hit him…. lol…..It was Al Kaline in his Rookie year….

  • Rick

    Great piece but can someone explain to me why DUMBrowski is bringing the roider back? My guess would be he’s one of Jimmy’s boys and will see action in teh post season cuz Jimmy owes it to him! And then he’ll NOT make a play that Jose would and it will bite them. But, the genius Leyland has proven to many times you can’t tell him anything because he knows it all!

  • J.D.

    Wise up, Rick. If the Tigers use Jhonny, it will be as a backup or pinch hitter. He WILL NOT replace Iglesias. And you don’t think any of our sluggers or pitchers have used a “little something extra”? Since the Tigers have never really had a GREAT (i.e Hall of Fame) shortstop, Iglesias has the POTENTIAL to become the best player at that position in team history. Right now, I would say that honor belongs to Alan Trammell.

  • Gary S

    No doubt about it, the Tigers defense is better with Inlesias. Tiger fans are in amazement watching this kid play, and should be, being as we haven’t seen a good SS since Trammell. Jhonny Peralta will play in some of the last 3 games and will play in the playoffs if he shows he can hit. Peralta’s bat is being missed. Inlesias is showing the Tiger’s brass he can hit, but he has little power (maybe its time for Jackson to give up leading off, and see what this kid can do hitting #1), that’s where Peralta’s bat is being missed. Did everyone forget how well Peralta played in the playoffs last year. If Jhonny can play left field I say go for it because he’s a better hitter then Dirks or Tuiasosopo.

  • Steve

    I agree wholeheartedly Gary. I personally like Jhonny, and see he’s a more powerfully and hitting piece to the Tiges offense than Andy or Tui….. but Andy is one of four or five Tiges scorching right now….

  • Rick

    J.D. I seriously wonder if you really follow the Tiger’s? Are you telling me you have never seen the genius play HIS favorites? Do you remember Inge? Raburn? Kelly? ALL career minor leaguer’s! If you think that Peralta will not be in the starting line-up at some point your fooling yourself. I don’t believe that idiot is stupid enough to put him at s.s. (wait yes he is) but I doubt he’ll do it. However LF remains an option. It appears by your words your ok with cheating in sports? Sorry I never have been and never will be ok with that! I personally hope Peralta NEVER wears the olde english “D” again he does not deserve too! A cheater is a CHEATER! I would rather lose honestly with honor then win disgracefully cheating! Guess that’s just an old man’s thoughts.

  • Gary S

    Rick, I guess you never made a mistake in your life, or if you did were you forgiven? Stealing signs from 2nd base is cheating, yet every team does it. What’s your thoughts on that?

Comments are closed.