Detroit Tigers

Can Jose Iglesias Replace Jhonny Peralta During 50-Game PED Ban?

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 4:  Third baseman Jose Iglesias #1 of the Detroit Tigers throws out Dayan Viciedo of the Chicago White Sox at first base on a grounder in the first inning at Comerica Park on August 4, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Duane Burleson/Getty Images
Ely SussmanCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2013

Jhonny Peralta has begun serving a 50-game suspension for his connection to Biogenesis and distributor Tony Bosch, and the Detroit Tigers anticipated this loss by acquiring Jose Iglesias on July 30, according to ESPN's Gordon Edes. He'll serve as their present and future at the shortstop position.

It was hardly a cheap acquisition: Detroit traded potential offensive star Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox, and reliever Brayan Villarreal is going to the Boston Red Sox.

Did those sacrifices secure them someone capable of replacing their two-time All-Star?

Because Peralta was an impending free agent, we're only concerned with whether or not Iglesias can contribute comparable value for the remainder of the 2013 season.

Using FanGraphs, let's look at what both players bring to the table statistically:

Player2013 MLB statsCareer MLB stats
Jose Iglesias.323/.367/.412, 1.0 fWAR in 245 PA.277/.328/.360, 1.0 fWAR in 328 PA
Jhonny Peralta.305/.361/.461, 3.7 fWAR in 436 PA.268/.330/.425, 23.1 fWAR in 5,668 PA

*Stats accurate through games of Aug. 4.

That's not a great first impression.

Even in the best season of his professional career, the 23-year-old Iglesias isn't keeping pace with Peralta.

Prior to changing uniforms, only 13 of his 71 hits (18.3 percent) went for extra bases—38 of 118 for Peralta (32.2 percent)—and that lack of pop negates his slight advantages in batting average and on-base percentage. At least he strikes out far less often than his PED-aided predecessor.

One thing to keep in mind when evaluating Iglesias is that he was playing out of position for much of 2013. The Boston Red Sox have veteran shortstop Stephen Drew, so they used the rookie at third base for 279 innings to keep his bat in the lineup.

In reality, Iglesias' defense is vastly superior to Peralta's thanks to his athleticism, instincts and reaction time. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweets why that makes him such a good fit on the Tigers:

Tigers have a 46.6% groundball rate. Jose Iglesias is a vacuum cleaner at shortstop. Will be worlds better in the field than Jhonny Peralta.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2013

Moreover, the experience he has gained at the hot corner could come in handy immediately. As MLive.com's Chris Iott reports, an abdominal strain continues to bother Miguel Cabrera. Iglesias can fill the void defensively in case Miggy needs more days off or starts as a designated hitter.

Through the first several months of the summer, Iglesias benefited from an unsustainable BABIP. He's rapidly regressing closer to his true ability (.622 OPS in four minor league seasons) with a .202/.247/.217 slash line in July.

Of course, Peralta was due for a slump, too. His .379 BABIP since Opening Day ranks as the fourth-luckiest in all of baseball, per FanGraphs.

All in all, it's a stretch to say that Iglesias is as effective as Peralta at this early stage of his career. The Tigers just hope their new guy isn't a significant downgrade, and given his glove work and contact ability, he won't be.

 

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