The Detroit Tigers remain atop the standings in the American League Central, even after a rough stretch of games that included dropping four of seven on the west coast. Their shortstops however, are bottom-feeders to the core.
Before we get too far into this it is worth noting that yes, Andrew Romine’s defense has been commendable. But enough with the accolades already…
How about an extra-base hit fellas? The Tigers were dealt a crushing blow this spring when Jose Iglesias was shut down indefinitely due to stress fractures in both shins. With Iglesias an afterthought, GM Dave Dombrowski got creative, if not cheap, and has rolled out the likes of Romine, Danny Worth, and the already disposed of Alex Gonzalez to anchor the infield’s most important defensive position.
Together this flailing trio has been passable on defense but has combined for just 35 hits in 184 at-bats. That’s a .190 batting average. To make matters worse, the swiss cheese sticks they’ve been lugging to the plate have managed six extra-base hits in two full months of big league action. SIX!! Romine has three doubles and a homer. Worth has managed all of one double in his 42 at-bats and Gonzalez somehow legged out a triple in his brief Tigers tenure.
Romine is slugging .259 with a .258 on-base percentage while Worth is at .190 and .217, respectively. As a point of reference, Victor Martinez is slugging at a .595 clip with a .390 on-base %. Too lofty of a comparison you say? Fine, even Don Kelly is at .328 and .356 in those departments.
Paging Jose Iglesias…Will Jose Iglesias please report to shortstop immediately.
One of Dombrowski’s calling cards has been that of an aggressive trade deadline GM. He has pulled off countless moves ahead of the July 31st marker, the best and often times last chance for a team to truly upgrade their roster prior to the postseason push.
This year might be more quiet than usual on that front, especially if Iglesias gets on the field in advance of that date. Sure, Dombrowski might add a bullpen arm or five, but in reality the team is pretty much set up for the playoffs, with one glaring exception – a capable shortstop.
I honestly wouldn’t expect Iglesias to hit much better than .240 or so if he is able to make it back to Detroit this summer. But .240 sounds like a mini jackpot compared to what has gone on in his absence. He slugged .386 and sported a .349 on-base % a season ago in time split between Boston and Detroit. Combine that with his upper crust defensive ability and the Tigers would essentially be adding Iglesias to their roster for the 2nd consecutive season in anticipation of a deep playoff run without the hassle of having to trade away some of the team’s few viable minor league pieces.
The addition of Iglesias would undoubtedly propel the Tigers, already the odds-on favorites to win the World Series according to the boys in Vegas, to new heights.
When the news of Iglesias’ shin issues became official in mid-March, the timetables thrown around by people in the know ranged anywhere from being out a month to a full year. It has been two and a half months as of this writing.
Iglesias is reportedly working hard and progressing through his rehab by riding a bike, swimming, etc. More and better news can’t come fast enough in what will turn out to be déjà vu all over again as the Tigers play beat the trade deadline clock for the 2nd summer in a row (Jhonny Peralta’s 2013 drug suspension being last year’s dilemma) with their shortstop position.
Did Dombrowski not sign Stephen Drew or someone comparable because internally they expected Iglesias back in time for the playoff push? Did the organization exaggerate his recovery timetable to take the heat off and let him rehab without a spotlight shining on his every move?
An entire fan base has their fingers crossed.
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