But before everyone hurls themselves from the Iglesias bandwagon, a dose of perspective.
“He’s only 22,” Ochoa said before Iglesias notched two hits against Rays ace David Price and took reliever J.P. Howell deep in the ninth inning. “I think with a guy like him, you can’t say, ‘He’s going to be this.’ Because a lot of times, it’s not when we want. It’s when it’s going to happen. You can’t force it. I think he has time, and I think that he does still have a bright future.”
It only seems like forever that the Red Sox have been waiting for Iglesias because he signed when he was only 19. In reality, though, he has made only 1,076 plate appearances in the minors, the result of persistent injuries that limited him to 405 plate appearances this season and 387 last.
By comparison, Dustin Pedroia [stats] got 1,216 plate appearances in the minors before making his major league debut in 2006. Jacoby Ellsbury [stats] made 1,155 plate appearances before getting called up in 2007.
And while it’s entirely possible Iglesias never will hit enough to be a viable everyday shortstop for the Red Sox, it probably is still premature for the team to make that determination.
It was nice to see Iglesias doing some damage with his bat last night, but that certainly won't be the norm. He'll (hopefully) show more flashes at the plate, that's not something we should expect. For now, any time he doesn't ground into a double play should be considered a victory.
While it feels like he's been part of the Sox organization for a better part of a decade, it's important to remember that Jose is only 22. If it takes him 3 more years to get competent at the plate, you still have a solid 25 year old short stop that you can pencil in your lineup for the next 10 seasons. Of course, I don't think the Sox will wait 3 years for him to develop, but they may not have to.
Even in the best-case scenario, where Jose wins the starting job next Spring, and plays baseball like we expect him to: hits somewhere around .240, slugs around .300, maybe hits 2 or 3 home runs -- are Sox fans going to get behind him? I worry about that, regardless of how many Web Gems he earns himself on Baseball Tonight. It's been a while since the Sox employed a singles hitter who didn't hit singles all that often. Sox fans expect home runs and doubles off the monster. I don't know that Jose thrives in this environment.
But I'm getting entirely too far ahead of myself. If Jose can get himself to a point where we can have that conversation, I'll be thrilled.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Clay Buchholz back at it | 2012 disaster all on Bobby Valentine | Globe - James Loney makes the best of it with the Red Sox | Rays stun Red Sox with six-run ninth | WEEI - Daniel Bard has good idea where his problems started, and when they might turn around | Buchholz after loss: 'The back's fine' | CSNNE - Red Sox blow 4-1 lead in ninth, lose to Rays, 7-4 | Shaughnessy: Cherington 'has to quit' if not allowed to pick manager