The breakout Red Sox 3rd baseman of 2012 has unfortunately not lived up to his rookie expectations. He already had big shoes to fill as Kevin Youkilis’ replacement and batting a .192 in 2013 is not helping his popularity.
Middlebrooks officially replaced the beloved Kevin Youkilis on June 23rd when he was traded to the White Sox. When he first came to Boston he made the most of the call up. In his first 41 games he hit .326 and had 34 RBIs. He continues to have a breakout season the rest of the year but was painfully cut short when he was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his hand. That regrettably ended his season which he ended with a .288 batting average, 54 RBIs, and 15 HRs in only 75 games.
Coming back as the starting 3rd baseman in 2013 Will Middlebrooks had high expectations. He was not able to string along enough consecutive games together to make his expectations seen and only played 53 games this season before being optioned down to Pawtucket. He was sent down on June 4th after going 7 for 42 in 11 games then called right back up on the 10th. Upon his return he went 4 for 29 and one game against the Tigers there was a 0 for 4 night before Farrell decided he needed to stay in Pawtucket until he worked out whatever kinks he had and earn his place back on the big league roster.
While in Pawtucket Middlebrooks showed some promise of returning to the bigs, in the beginning of his stint that is. In his first 7 games back he was batting .333 with 4 HRs, and a .767 slugging percentage. In those 7 games he had a 4 for 5 night which included 2 HRs, a single, and a double and 8 RBIs, which tied a franchise record for RBIs with the PawSox. After that game we began to see the struggling Middlebrooks once again. Through the next 10 games we saw him only hit 1 Homerun, gather only 4 more RBIs, and his batting average dropped to a .255, and slugging percentage plummeted to a .489.
This guy had, and quite honestly still has, a tremendous amount of talent and should at some point break out of this slump and get rid of the sophomore jitters, until then the Red Sox will be searching for an everyday 3rd baseman. Whether they trade for one before the upcoming trade deadline or keep with the young call ups is unknown at this time but it is known whatever happens in the short-term if Middlebrooks wants his job back he must earn it.