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Iglesias finishes second for AL's top rookie honor

Tigers shortstop receives five first-place votes; Tampa Bay's Myers wins

DETROIT -- A Rookie of the Year Award would have been Jose Iglesias' biggest grab of the season. Instead, awards season glory proved just out of his reach.

The slick-fielding Tigers shortstop ended up losing out to Tampa Bay's Wil Myers for American League Rookie of the Year honors amidst a field of two highly-touted Tampa Bay Rays. It was not a surprise, but it eliminates the possibility of a Tigers sweep of the end-of-season player awards.

Myers tallied 23 of the 30 first-places and posted 131 total points in the balloting, followed by Iglesias' 80 points, including five first-place votes. Myers' teammate Chris Archer finished third with 35 votes.

In the National League, Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez beat out Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller.

Iglesias, who impacted two division-winning teams thanks to a midseason trade from Boston to Detroit, was vying to become the first Tiger to win the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for Rookie of the Year honors since Justin Verlander in 2006. No Tigers position player has won it since Lou Whitaker in 1978.

It's an overall award, but it wasn't difficult to figure out the selling point for Iglesias. On a team that hasn't won a Gold Glove Award since Placido Polanco in 2009, Iglesias was hoping defense would take him to the rookie honors.

Though Iglesias spent most of the season's first half playing third base in Boston, filling in for an injured Will Middlebrooks, he was always a shortstop in waiting, even if his wait wasn't going to end in Boston. With Stephen Drew holding down the position most of the year and fellow prospect Xander Bogaerts nearing the Major Leagues, Iglesias was stuck in a logjam.

A hot start at the plate surprised even Red Sox officials. Iglesias ended June batting .409 (54-for-132) with nine doubles, nine RBIs and 23 runs scored. He went hitless in just four games he started in that span.

With Middlebrooks healthy and the Red Sox set at shortstop, Iglesias came to Detroit in a deal that gave the Tigers protection for a looming Jhonny Peralta suspension. Iglesias became the Tigers' everyday shortstop and provided a defensive dimension not seen in Detroit since the days of Alan Trammell.

Whereas Peralta was a reliable shortstop who consistently made plays on the ground balls he reached, Iglesias changed the definition of reachable grounders.

Iglesias not only made plays on 69 of the 83 balls in his defensive zone, according to Fangraphs, he made 17 more plays outside his zone. That difference helped him to a 2.0 Ultimate Zone Rating over just 46 games at short in Detroit. Over 150 games, that would equate to an 8.1 UZR that would've ranked him among the AL's best shortstops.

Iglesias' bat did not have the same production with the Tigers as it did with the Red Sox, which played a factor in his relatively low 0.8 WAR in Detroit. Add together his Red Sox tenure, however, and his 1.8 WAR topped Archer (1.8) while ranking behind Myers (2.4).

What Iglesias meant to the Tigers' drive to a third consecutive AL Central title, however, went beyond the statistics. To his right, his defense helped fill part of the defensive gap left by a hobbled Miguel Cabrera. It also provided a boost to a Tigers rotation that included ground-ball pitchers Rick Porcello and Doug Fister.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Chris Archer, Jose Iglesias, Wil Myers