Jose Iglesias has a bet going on with former teammate and Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto about who will have more hits in the 2020 season.
As of now, the Orioles’ shortstop is blowing by the six-time All-Star.
Iglesias is 15-for-33 with seven doubles so far this season, a far better offensive outburst than anyone expected. He’s slashing .455/.457/.667 with an OPS of 1.124. He’s drawn zero walks, but has struck out just four times since
Manager Brandon Hyde, who managed Iglesias in the 2009 Arizona Fall League, said the transformation has been incredible.
“He’s off to a great start and it’s great to see,” Hyde said after a dominating 11-0 win over the Nationals. “If you would’ve seen him then until now, it makes you feel great. He is so mature and such a smart player, and he knows pitchers and how to take at-bats.”
Against the Nationals on Friday night, Iglesias went 4-for-4 with a double.
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When the Orioles signed Iglesias in the offseason, they mostly signed him for his glove. He’s known as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and as a replacement for Jonathan Villar, the Orioles appeared to have a sturdy glove up the middle at the very least.
Through nine games as an Oriole, he’s given them so much more.
“I don’t think anybody expected that, but he did have a nice year offensively for Cincinnati,” Hyde said. “He’s always been a line drive hitter, got some sneaky power. We’re still really early in this, but I like the way he’s swinging the bat right now. I know he’s in a good place. I’ve just got to keep him healthy.”
While Iglesias has never been a hitter with good, or even average power, he’s making better contact than he ever has before.
His average exit velocity is slightly up, to 85.8 mph, from a previous best (since 2015) of 84.8. In the last five years of Statcast’s existence, he’s been in at least the bottom three percent in the league in exit velocity. But now, his expected batting average (xBA) is .416 — in the top two percent of the league.
While Iglesias won’t be able to maintain his torrid pace of a .455 batting average all season, the start he’s had is certainly a bright spot on an Orioles team that, through nearly 25 percent of the season, has been a tougher out than most expected.
“The bat, for me, it’s been a process over the last several years,” Iglesias said. “I feel comfortable. I think I can help this team in so many ways and the bat is one of them.”
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