When Trevor Story departed the Colorado Rockies, never to return, the team quickly moved on to find a replacement interim shortstop for the 2022 season until prospects like Ezequiel Tovar are ready to take over the position. Deciding to not stay in-house, the Rockies signed José Iglesias to a one-year, $5 million contract shortly after the MLB lockout ended. The expectation was for Iglesias to live up to his high-contact profile and try to provide adequate defense at the keystone. Nearly two months into the season, has Iglesias lived up to those expectations?
Playing the hits
Making contact is the name of the game for Iglesias. Throughout his 11-year career, he has an 86.9% contact rate at the plate. As a result, he has a career strikeout rate of 12.4% and a 4.4% walk rate. So, when Iglesias comes to the plate, it’s extremely likely that he is going to put the ball in play, which is a very desirable trait in the high-strikeout landscape in today’s game of baseball.
So far this season, Iglesias ranks fourth on the team in hits with 37, sitting behind Ryan McMahon (38), Connor Joe (44), and team leader C.J. Cron (51). He is second in doubles (9) and has an overall slash line of .311/.369/.387 across 130 plate appearances. His 13 strikeouts and six walks are both among the fewest on the team this season (lowest among regular starters).
So, Iglesias has continued the trend of putting the ball in play and getting on base, something the Rockies need. However, according to FanGraphs, over 50% of his batted balls are on the ground and he currently has a line drive rate under 20% for the first time since 2013. The groundballs are worrisome, but his contact and bat control are so good that he has a BAPIP of .349 this season. Another encouraging factor is Iglesias has the ability to spray the ball around to all parts of the field fairly evenly.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about Iglesias this season is the difference in his performance at home and on the road. Unlike most people, Iglesias is thriving away from Coors Field, a place where he is struggling at the plate. At home, Iglesias is batting .207.292/.259 with three doubles and eight RBIs. On the road, he is batting .410/.446/.508 with six doubles and four RBIs. Perhaps the solution to the Rockies' road struggles could come from emulating their shortstop’s plate approach away from Coors Field.
Glove on the rocks
For over a decade, the Rockies have been spoiled with two of the best fielding shortstops in baseball in Troy Tulowitzki and Trevor Story. So, it was only natural that many fans would be a little more critical of a new shortstop for the team. While Iglesias hasn’t been unbearable awful, he is an obvious downgrade from what we have had in the past.
This season, Iglesias has committed five errors, three fielding and two throwing, and has a -0.8 UZR as well as a -6 DRS. Now, 2021 was an abysmal defensive season for Iglesias, so he is doing much better than he was last year, but it is still a glaring problem for a team that is struggling defensively across the board.
We have seen some impressive plays from Iglesias this season, but we have also seen miscues on plays that should be routine or that we’ve been used to seeing made in the past. It’s unfair to compare him to the other elite shortstops in club history, but there is plenty of room for improvement for Iglesias to make to coincide with his offensive contributions. The Rockies have always prided themselves on high-quality defense and cannot afford a weak link at any position, especially with the number of groundballs the pitchers utilize to get outs. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on as the season continues to roll on.
Playing as expected
While Iglesias’s main purpose is to buy time for other prospects to get ready for the big leagues, he is doing an adequate job of contributing at the plate and meeting expectations. His defense is leaving much to be desired, but it’s good enough to get the job done for now. Still, by season’s end, if he keeps up his performance of slightly above average play, he may end up becoming a top-notch bargain acquisition by Bill Schmidt.
★ ★ ★
Tell me if you’ve heard this before, but the Rockies are struggling on the road. Perhaps one of the most drastic effects has been on C.J. Cron who is one of the best hitters and Coors Field but has scuffled mightily on the road. Cron talks about how he is noticing the differences more but does pinpoint that the team needs to work on seeing as many pitches as they can, which should result in more hits. The article also mentions how Kris Bryant may face another IL stint after sitting out the past two games due to his back injury flaring up again.
It’s been an interesting change having the universal DH in the National League now. Andrew Simon of MLB.com decided to rank the National League teams in terms of DH usage, and the Rockies come in eighth place thanks to Connor Joe. Joe is having a strong season as the primary DH, but another notable fact is that Charlie Blackmon’s OPS is nearly 100 points higher as a DH than when he plays right field.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
It was a rough night for Albuquerque starter Dillon Overton after he allowed six runs on seven hits in 4 2⁄3 innings against Round Rock. The biggest blow came in the second inning when Overton gave up a three-run home run to give Round Rock the lead early. Albuquerque would manage to make it a 3-2 game until Round Rock scored another three runs in the fifth to knock Overton out of the game and put the game out of reach. J.D. Hammer came in relief and allowed two more runs in the sixth inning to make it an 8-2 game. The Isotopes managed to tack on a run in the eighth, but it was a drop in the bucket on the night. Tim Lopes had a pair of hits for the Isotopes along with D.J. Peterson, while Wynton Bernard scored a pair of runs for the team.
Hartford pulled off an extra-innings victory on the road against Richmond as they won 4-3 in 10 innings. Ezequiel Tovar clubbed his ninth home run of the year as part of a two-hit night, a solo shot in the eighth inning to help Hartford tie the game. He also added two more stolen bases to bring his total to 14 on the season. Brenton Doyle also tallied two hits on the night. Karl Kauffman started on the hill for Hartford, allowing three runs on five hits in 6 2⁄3 innings of work with eight strikeouts, bringing his ERA down to 2.81.
A grand total of 13 hits helped lift Spokane over the Aquasox 9-3. Drew Romo led the charge offensively, tallying a pair of hits and driving in five runs, thanks to a triple and a three-run home run. Daniel Montano and Eddy Diaz both tallied three hits with Montano driving in two runs and Diaz scoring a pair of runs. Mike Ruff tossed six shutout innings to lower his ERA to 2.16 on the season. Everett scored their three runs in the seventh off of Boby Johnson, including a two-run home run. Anderson Bido closed out the game with scoreless innings to seal the victory.
A three-run first inning was all that Fresno really needed as they took down Stockton 4-2. Adael Amador and Braiden Ward both tallied two hits to help lead the offense for the team. Ward added an RBI on the night and also stole his 24th bag of the season. Hunter Goodman and Braxton Fulford also both drove in a run on the night. Fresno starter Cullen Kafka tossed five solid innings, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out seven.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!