|Detroit Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco fields the ball to get a force out on Oakland Athletics' Mark Kotsay in the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007, in Detroit. Polanco tied a major league record by playing his 143rd-consecutive game without an error at second base. (Duane Burleson | AP)|
DETROIT — Placido Polanco played with some good shortstops during his 16 seasons in the major leagues.
Jimmy Rollins and Edgar Renteria top the list, he said Friday, and he considers Carlos Guillen up there too.
But Jose Iglesias, the Detroit Tigers' flashy, big-play making shortstop acquired from the Boston Red Sox in a 2013 trade, just might be the best.
"I think Jose Iglesias is probably the best defensive shortstop in the league right now," Polanco said. "Just seeing the plays that he makes, he can make a good throw (too). They're unbelievable."
Polanco, who became affectionately known as "Poli" during his time with the Tigers, was back in Detroit on Friday for the sixth annual Fiesta Tigres luncheon at Comerica Park, an extension of the weekend celebrating the contributions of Hispanic and Latino players to the game of baseball.
He played five seasons with the Tigers from 2005 to 2009, a time period that saw the organization flip from a perennial loser to playoff contender. Polanco was named MVP of the American League Championship Series in 2006, going 9-for-17 in the series against the Oakland A's.
In one of the most iconic moments during that run, Polanco leapt with his arms stretched high as he trotted from second to third base after Magglio Ordonez's series-clinching home run.
"My son asks me everyday, 'Why were you jumping like that?'," Polanco said. "And I can't explain it."
Polanco was born and grew up in the Dominican Republic before landing in the United States for college. He was drafted in 1994 by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he spent five seasons.
In 2005, his fourth season in Philadelphia, he was traded to Detroit. Jim Leyland was hired to manage the Tigers in 2006 and Polanco credits him with helping lead them to a pair of World Series appearances.
"We had a very good team, a team that was willing to learn," Polanco said. "And if you're willing to learn, good things can happen. We learned a lot from him and he put us in a winning mode. We were winning and having a lot of fun."
Polanco, 39, left Detroit in 2010 and played three seasons with the Phillies and one, his last season in the major leagues, with the Miami Marlins in 2013. He says he isn't 100 percent retired — he thinks he can swing the bat - but enjoys spending time with his two children, ages 15 and 11.
He posted a career .297 batting average and .990 fielding percentage. He went 186 consecutive games from 2006 to 2008 without an error.
"What can I tell you? I just showed up everyday and played hard — and I tried to be nice to everybody that I saw," Polanco said. "I still miss it. Coming back here, it brought back the right memories.
"The doors are open to coaching or working with players, and I would love to."
- Aaron McMann covers sports for MLive.com. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @AaronMcMann.