Coming off of a great rookie season in which he posted a very good .288/.325/.509 slash line with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs, Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks has struggled in 2013.
In 212 plate appearances, Middlebrooks has hit for a .196/.232/.397 slash line with nine home runs. The power is still there, and in fact, he is hitting home runs at a very nice rate. The problem is that he isn’t getting on base. He is striking out in 28.3 percent of his plate appearances and walking in only 4.2 percent. Another bad sign for Middlebrooks is that he isn’t even getting unlucky. His .227 BABIP is very weak.
Defensively, Middlebrooks has been even worse. His UZR currently sits at -4.7 and his UZR/150 is at -13.9. Compared to his 2012 season, his defense has been much worse. In 2012, his UZR was 1.2 and his UZR/150 was 2.4, now those aren’t amazing defensive numbers, but they are certainly much better than what he is providing this season.
If this was occurring last season, during the train-wreck of a season for the Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine, Middlebrooks’ performance would have been a huge story. However, luckily for him, the Red Sox are playing very well. With a 44-29 record, the Red Sox are in first place in the vaunted American League East division. They have the second best record in all of MLB. The Red Sox have the second highest run-differential, outscoring opponents by 79 runs.
As long as Middlebrooks is able to keep providing power and driving in runs, this shouldn’t be a huge problem for the Red Sox, but it would be a great luxury for them if the third baseman is able to turn his season around.