I’ve been getting my share of tweets from folks who believe Jose Iglesias should supplant Stephen Drew as the team’s starting shortstop -- not next year, but ASAP. Drew is in an extended funk at the plate -- in 15 games since May 15, he is batting just .154 (8 for 52) with 15 strikeouts, his overall average sinking to .213 entering play Tuesday.
He looked like he was coming out of his slump eight days ago, when he followed up a three-hit game against the Indians with two more hits against the Phillies. But he then went hitless in 16 at-bats before singling off Phil Hughes Saturday, following that with a home run in the ninth off reliever Adam Warren.
Iglesias, meanwhile, has torn it up since his recall, batting .424 (14 for 33) with 3 doubles and a home run in 10 games, while excelling at a position, third base, that was alien to him until just a couple of weeks ago. He has all but guaranteed that he will be kept on after Will Middlebrooks is activated Saturday, with Pedro Ciriaco in danger of being designated for assignment.
But when Farrell talks about what Iglesias can contribute, it is in a utility role. There has been no talk whatsoever about shortstop, nor should there be. Certainly not yet. Iglesias is a magician afield, but is still far from a proven hitter in the big leagues.
Drew, meanwhile, has been a model of consistency in the field -- his throws to first base hit Mike Napoli’s glove in almost the same spot every time, his range is good and his hands are sure. He has made just one error in 185 chances, which ranks as fewest errors in the big leagues among everyday shortstops.
And using one of the newer metrics, defensive WAR (wins above replacement), only Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons, a 1.7, ranks higher than Drew at 1.1.
“The thing that impresses me about Stephen,’’ Jon Lester said, “is he does nothing flashy, but he gets to the balls and he makes good throws.
“When you have a shortstop that every routine ball that gets hit, you as a pitcher know ‘I’ve got an out,’ it makes your job so much easier. ‘Hey, you’ve got a chance to turn two here, regardless of the ball’s hit, we’ve got a chance,’ that gives me confidence. I don’t have to be perfect with my sinker away, I don’t have to be perfect with my cutter in to get a ground ball. I know that we’ve got a chance.’’
Drew has a track record as a hitter. In the two weeks before this current slump, he posted a slash line of .348/.415/.609 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs. So, do you judge him as the hitter he was then, or the hitter he has been of late? His history suggests that he’s going to be a productive hitter, a history that is much more reassuring than that of Iglesias.
The Red Sox do not need to force the issue. Iglesias has a chance to make an impact filling in at two spots, three if Dustin Pedroia ever takes a day off. That should be enough for now.