From a simple results standpoint, Jose Iglesias is off to a very nice start. In 49 plate appearances, Iglesias has a .326/.408/.349 line with a 128 wRC+. His .350 BABIP is a little above his career norm and his ISO is well below his career norm, so this isn’t the kind of line you’re going to look at and totally dismiss as small sample noise.
I don’t think Iglesias will continue to hit like one of the best two dozen hitters in the league, but the line does come with a very interesting indicator. Iglesias has walked 12.2% of the time and struck out just 6.1% of the time, both of which would be career bests. Now 50 PA are just 50 PA and I don’t think Iglesias has become Stan Musial, but this is a promising trend.
Iglesias’ swing lends itself to higher BABIP than average because he doesn’t hit a lot of fly balls and has the ability to beat out infield hits. I wouldn’t bet on .350 for his career, but .320 to .330 seems plausible. If he can do that while also walking at or above league average and almost never striking out, he would be a great player.
Let’s say he can walk 10%, strike out 7% of the time, and post a .330 BABIP. Say he hits 4 HR and 20 doubles. That’s a .340 wOBA, give or take. Even if he’s just a slightly above average defender at shortstop, that’s a 4-5 WAR player. If he’s actually does become a great defender, that’s a borderline MVP.
I don’t want to get too excited about a couple dozen PA, but the underlying plate discipline data tells a consistent story:
Iglesias was already a great contact guy in 2015 and so far he’s improved his contact rate (contact/swings) by 5.5%. He’s done this by being more selective, both in and out of the zone. Iglesias has terrific bat-to-ball ability and so far he seems to be getting better at knowing which pitches to avoid.
He’s swung and missed just three times this year. Five if you count foul tips:
It’s still early, but this is definitely something to watch. A player with this kind of strikeout zone command, contact ability, and batted ball profile can be very valuable even without much power. And while it’s only been 49 PA and 193 pitches this year, it continues something we saw from him in 2015.