When the Angels acquired José Iglesias via a trade with the Baltimore Orioles last offseason, the idea may have been that he would provide a stopgap at the shortstop position before the 2021-22 free agency period, given its depth at the position. While it is unknown at this time whether or not the Angels plan to make a splash in the market at shortstop, the initial idea came full circle as Iglesias ultimately spent just under one season with the Angels and will move on to another team this offseason.
Looking to replace Andrelton Simmons’ defensive and offensive values, the Angels brought in Iglesias after he hit .373 with a OBP of .400 and SLG of .556 in 2020. Primarily known as a superb fielder, Iglesias’ explosion on the offensive end made him the kind of piece the Angels could use to hold down the position until the team decided the next course of action.
Needless to say, several players weren’t able to replicate their 2020 successes and Iglesias could be classified into that category. He wasn’t horrible at the plate, but his final batting average of .259, OBP of .295 and SLG of .375 with the Angels were a far cry from his 2020 stats.
Jose Iglesias is an absolute magician at SS pic.twitter.com/JKGjWW2EFn— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) March 7, 2021
While his offense numbers were expected to decline, it was his defensive miscues that caught most by surprise. He posted a career-low fielding percentage at shortstop with .958 and committed a career-high 16 errors. With the Angels, Iglesias had -21 defensive runs saved, worst in the Majors at any position.
Iglesias did have some nice months with the Angels where he looked a bit like he did in 2020. In May he hit .303 with a OBP of .361 and a SLG. of .455. July was another good month for Iglesias where he hit .289 with a .326 OBP and a .400 SLG.
August was harsh for Iglesias, where he hit sub-.200. The lack of offensive production in addition to his sharp decline defensively led the Angels to look at Jack Mayfield and Luis Rengifo at shortstop. Iglesias was ultimately released on Sept. 3 and signed with his first team, the Boston Red Sox, three days later on Sept. 6.
2021 STATS (Only with LAA)
114 Games / 424 AB / 57 R / 110 H / 159 TB / 23 2B / 1 3B / 41 RBI / 8 HR / 18 BB / 5 SB / .259 AVG / .295 OBP / .375 SLG / .670 OPS
BEST OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
On Aug. 6 against the crosstown-rival Los Angeles Dodgers, Iglesias tied a season-high two RBIs with a clutch performance that helped lead the Angels to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at Dodger Stadium. Down 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning, Iglesias hit a solo home run to cut the deficit in half.
In the top of the tenth inning, doubled in the go-ahead run and scored the winning run off of Mayfield single.
BEST DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
Iglesias looked great defensively during Spring Training, with web gem after web gem. Early in the season, it felt like he would make a spectacular play every night. There were a few instances of that during the regular season where he wowed the crowd with flips to second, diving stops and a cannon throw to first.
On June 16 in Oakland, Iglesias made a pair of impressive catches as the team was clearly battling the sun.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2022
Iglesias is a free agent this winter and should have a healthy amount of suitors. While he experienced improved numbers (.356/.406/.508) in his 59 at-bats for Boston, it is unlikely he will be able to maintain that kind of offensive success over the span of a 162 game season.
Iglesias will find playing time based on his fielding track record. Although 2021 was a career worst for Iglesias defensively, he can still turn his consistency around and become the great defensive shortstop he used to be. Through flashes of brilliance sporadically throughout the season, Iglesias proved he’s still capable of playing stout defense. For him, it’s just a matter of addressing what went wrong this year either mechanically or mentally and fixing it during the offseason.