Evaluating the starters: 3B Will Middlebrooks

Entering his sophomore season with the big club, first season as everyday starter Will Middlebrooks has some big shoes to fill. He is following in the footsteps of fan favorites Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell. Middlebrooks was called up to the major leagues on May 2nd, 2012 when Youkilis was placed on the DL and instantly started to perform. Once Youkilis was healthy he and Middlebrooks battled for the starting position at the hot corner. Middlebrooks proved to be the more consistent player leading to a trade of Youkilis, who ended the season with the Chicago White Sox before signing as a free agent with they New York Yankees.
Middlebrooks played in 75 games after being promoted to the club before he was hit by a pitch on his hand breaking a bone and ending his season. Offensively Middlebrooks performed exceptionally well hitting .288, 15 home runs, and 54 RBI's. He struck out 70 times and drew 13 walks. His offensive WAR (wins above replacement) was 1.1 meaning that offensively if he had not been playing the team would have lost 1.1 more games without him. Defensively Middlebrooks had a good year statistically for a rookie. He played in 72 games, starting 69 of them. He had 32 put outs with 132 assists in 175 chances with only 9 errors. He contributed in 13 double plays and had a fielding percentage of .949.
Middlebrooks has potential to be an MVP winner in his time with the Red Sox. While the chances of him winning the prestigious award this year are slim the team will definitely improve with him playing every day. Middlebrooks will most likely hit in the range of .275-.300 like he did last season. He should be hitting in the heart of the order, most likely behind Pedroia and Ortiz. We should expect between 25-40 home runs this season and hopefully around 110 RBI's. If all these numbers line up Middlebrooks will most likely be our biggest offensive weapon. Everyone has high expectations of Middlebrooks this season, if he starts slow many fans will worry, but fear not it may just be a slight case of the Sophomore slump. Hopefully this doesn't happen and we are praising Middlebrooks all season.

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