A funny thing happened to Jose Iglesias on his road to becoming the shortstop of the future: he has found himself surprisingly as the third baseman of the present. Raise your hand if you had Iglesias as the Boston Red Sox‘s best offensive option at third base this season.
All of this comes into play given the season long struggles of incumbent Will Middlebrooks and his inability to make adjustments to the way he is being pitched.
After Saturday’s loss to the Detroit Tigers, the numbers for Iglesias and Middlebrooks are too obvious to ignore at this point with Iglesias hitting .438 and Middlebrooks sitting at .192 at this point in the season.
It is a pretty obvious choice for the Red Sox. Middlebrooks needs to go to the minors until the All-Star break to try and get back on track and get his confidence back. He needs to be promoted when he has earned it, and that has to be made clear to him.
Middlebrooks biggest problem this season has been his inability to make adjustments to the way he is being pitched. After bursting onto the scene last season and taking over the Red Sox third base job, it was clear that the American League was going to make a book on Middlebrooks this season and change the way he is being pitched to.
The change has come, and Middlebrooks has been slow to make the adjustment. His 60 strikeouts and nine walks reflect his struggles at making contact. In contrast, Iglesias has walked nine times and struck out only 15 times in about half as many plate appearances. Iglesias’ on-base numbers are more than double those of Middlebrooks’.
Iglesias is almost .200 points higher in slugging percentage then Middlebrooks, something that shouldn’t be the case given the body sizes and power of both players.
In reality, it is a pretty easy decision for the Red Sox. In order to get Middlebrooks back to what he was last season, he needs to go down to the minors and work on his plate discipline and his pitch selection.
Middlebrooks has all of the tools to be a very good third baseman for the Red Sox, but that will only happen if he remembers that baseball is a constant game of adjustments and there is always someone behind you ready to take your place if you falter.
Right now, Middlebrooks has Iglesias in front of him and Xander Bogaerts behind him, banging on the door to the majors.
For Middlebrooks and the Red Sox, it is time for some tough love. If it gets Middlebrooks back on track, it will be well worth the trip to the minors. Middlebrooks is an important piece in the Red Sox present and future plans.