Baltimore Orioles Should Opt-In on Jose Iglesias for 2021

The 2020 Baltimore Orioles had a season full of surprises with most coming in the form of rookies outperforming their expectations.

But, the one 2020 Baltimore Orioles player who truly surprised the fans was Jose Iglesias.

The shortstop had one of the best batting lines in the whole MLB, and had he not had his nagging injuries, he would have won a batting title.

His 2020 slash: .373/.400/.556.

Unfortunately, he only played in 39 games and had 142 at-bats. So, the two players with the batting-average batting titles include DJ LeMahieu with .364 in the AL and Juan Soto with .351 in the NL.

Iglesias hit three home runs – putting near the bottom of the 2020 shortstops, but he was consistently on the leader board for doubles. In his 39 games, he hit 17 doubles. The only players who hit more included Christian Walker, Cesar Hernandez, Dominic Smith, and Freddie Freeman. Rumor has it that Freeman will win the NL MVP, and his 23 doubles, 13 home runs, and 53 RBI are the reason.

When Iglesias was healthy, the Orioles were 17-22. Between August 12 and September 8, Iglesias had a 13-game hitting streak with nine games where he had two hits. Sadly, he was out nursing a sore quad between August 11 and 27. He had a second hitting streak between September 12 and 16 that included 10 hits in 19 at bats.

Iglesias was one of the most consistent hitters on the squad, and it seemed like nearly every hit landed in an unexpected spot.

Had there been a 2020 All-Star Game, Iglesias would have been there as a representative of the Birds. His only All-Star appearance was in 2015 with the Detroit Tigers and that season he hit .300/.347/.370 with 17 doubles and two home runs in 416 at-bats. Iglesias accomplished the 17 doubles and more runs in a fraction of at-bats this season.

Because of his consistency at the plate and his quality defense, the Orioles should pick him up again for 2021. The Orioles have a $3.5 million option to keep him. Or they can pay him $500,000 to enter free agency.

Interestingly, there are a bunch of shortstops who are the same age as 31-year-old Iglesias who will be free agents for the 2021 season including: Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, and Andrelton Simmons. Most likely, those shortstops will be out of the Orioles budget as they are used to receiving seven-figure contracts.

Iglesias is a bargain at $3.5 million. After his latest dip in the free agent pool in 2020, he quickly found that he just doesn’t draw the same attention as other power-hitting shortstops. However, he might be tempted to use his 1.15 WAR – which was higher than all other free-agent shortstops – to test 2021 free agency.

He stymied pitchers and defenses with his bloop singles and doubles in unexpected places. The Orioles have a few shortstops in the pipeline, but none will be ready for 2021. Therefore, Mike Elias’s first move after the World Series should be to commit $3.5 million of the 2021 budget to Iglesias.