One thing was for sure heading into 2013 for the Boston Red Sox: Will Middlebrooks was the team’s starting third baseman. Following last season’s disaster, Middlebrooks offered one of the few bright spots in 2012 and one of the few certainties for 2013.
Middlebrooks finished 2012 in impressive fashion, registering a .288 batting average, 15 home runs, 54 RBI, and a .835 OPS in 267 at bats. Tallying the team’s second highest OPS behind David Ortiz, Middlebrooks was expected to carry a major offensive load in 2013.
This simply wasn’t the case. Through the team’s first 78 games, Middlebrooks struggled mightily hitting just .192 with nine home runs. On June 25, the Red Sox decided to demote the scuffling third baseman to triple A.
What seemed to be a minor move to get Middlebrooks back on track ended up serving as a lengthy demotion in Pawtucket. After hitting 10 home runs and 35 RBI in 45 games for the triple A affiliate, the Red Sox promoted the young third baseman back to Boston on August 10. With the Red Sox having a hard time finding consistent play from third base, the team believed this was a good time to promote Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks has come back in strong fashion, hitting .441 with two home runs and seven RBI in his first 11 games. More importantly, Middlebrooks has shown improved plate discipline, drawing seven walks in 34 at bats, good for a .535 OBP.
While it appears Middlebrooks has regained his starting spot, the Red Sox aren’t sold yet. With the call up of star prospect Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox seem skeptical of Middlebrooks moving forward. With Bogaerts, the Red Sox are hoping to create competition at the hot corner as Middlebrooks has shown an ability in the past to thrive off of competition; just ask former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.