Boston Red Sox: Third Base Belongs to Will Middlebrooks

Joy R. Absalon – USA Today Sports

After a tough season, the Boston Red Sox are glad to know who will be playing the hot corner on opening day.

For the past couple seasons with the Red Sox, as well as when he was called up to the Major Leauges, Kevin Youkilis was the man at third base. Youkilis was not only a team favorite, but a fan favorite as well. The 30,000+ fans sitting at historical Fenway Park would yell “Yooooooooouk!” as he stepped into the batter box with arguably the most awkward batting stance in the MLB.

At the end of April 2012, Youkilis was placed on the disabled list with lower-back discomfort. In the 18 games prior being placed on the DL, Youkilis hit a measly .219 with two home runs, nine RBIs and a .292 on-base percentage. When moving Youkilis to the DL, the Red Sox made the decision to call up, third baseman, Will Middlebrooks.

Taken in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, Middlebrooks started his pro career with the Lowell Spinners in Short-Season A ball in 2008. Middlebrooks was patiently waiting down in Pawtucket for two seasons for the call to the majors. While with the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2012, Middlebrooks was outstanding. In 24 games, Middlebrooks batted .333 with 18 runs, 9 homers and 27 RBI.

Middlebrooks debuted for the Red Sox on May 2nd, 2012. The Red Sox didn’t skip a beat with Youkilis out of the lineup, Middlebrooks filled in better than expected. The only issue came when Youkilis was ready to return to the linuep, what would the Red Sox do with Middlebrooks. He was playing to well up in the majors to send him down to AAA, but they didn’t want Youkilis to lose his starting job due to an injury.

After a month or so of platooning at third base, the Red Sox traded Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox for a bag of balls and some chewing tobacco, or at least thats what Red Sox Nation saw it as. In return the Red Sox would actually get Zach Stewart, Brent Lillibridge from the White Sox and the ability to start Middlebrooks everyday at third.

Middlebrooks played outstanding for 75 games before going down with a broken bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch in a game against the Cleveland Indians on August 10, 2012. The injury ended the rookie’s season.

After hitting .288 with 15 homers and 54 RBI during his injury shorten rookie season, the Red Sox are certain that Middlebrooks will be an impact player at third base for many years to come. With a full season of play, Red Sox fans can expect a 25 plus home runs and 100 plus RBI per season from the 24-year-old.

With the amount of drama the Red Sox clubhouse had last season, it will be nice to know that the dilemma of who will play third base for the club is over. Middlebrooks will be holding down the fort at the hot corner for many more seasons.

Middlebrooks will wear number 16 starting this season after wearing number 64 in 2012.

Justin Soderberg is a Boston Red Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, ”Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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