Will Middlebrooks was called up to the main roster after Kevin Youkilis went to the DL in 2012. After weeks of alternating between the two, then-manager Bobby Valentine stuck with Middlebrooks, forcing the Boston Red Sox to trade Youkilis in June.
At the end of his rookie season, Middlebrooks finished with a .288 average, 15 home runs and 54 RBI in just 74 games played. The 2013 season got off to a great start as he hit six home runs in April. He then injured his ribs and missed time in May and June. Middlebrooks was demoted to Class AAA Pawtucket.
Something must have changed because when he was called back up, Middlebrooks was on a tear. He had a .881 OPS in August and .747 OPS in September and hit eight home runs with 24 RBI.
Heading into the 2014 season, the third-year pro will be batting eighth. He has the starting third base job for now, unless Stephen Drew comes back. Drew would take over at shortstop, moving top-prospect Xander Bogaerts to third base. However, with Bogaerts a natural shortstop, Middlebrooks’ job seems safe.
Middlebrooks is ranked in the lower-half of the top-20 third basemen. He has some power, but the injury bug could haunt him again. With the tendency to slump and possible demotion always looming, it’s hard to trust Middlebrooks as an everyday option. He is a good late-round pick as a backup. If he plays the full season, expect 25 home runs, 72 RBI and a .262 average — not bad for a 16th-round selection.