It’s Time to Make a Decision on Will Middlebrooks


 MiddleBrooks and His Uncertain Future

Will Middlebrooks is struggling. Like CC Sabathia trying to say no when he is asked if he would like one more bowl of Captain Crunch.  Will Middlebrooks has been in what the Red Sox can only hope is the “sophomore slump”. Often, players who experience the slump work through it as the season goes on, slowly showing improvement over the season. Middlebrooks has not been following that same path at all.  Since the infamous 3 home run game of April 7th against Toronto, Middlebrooks has been on a roller coaster headed towards the bottom.

In April Middlebrooks hit .194/.224/.418 with 6 HR, In May he hit .211/.247/.395 with 2HR, and in June in his 7 games so far he has hit .138/.194/.276. with 1 HR. These numbers show that not only is his batting average dropping, but his slugging is as well. Part of playing a corner infield or outfield position in the MLB is the ability to bring power to the plate. If Middlebrooks is not hitting for average, not hitting for power, and not getting on base, then he is not helping this team. With Middlebrooks’ MLB career BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) at .287, he has not just been terribly unlucky. His season numbers are currently  .192/.228/.389. These numbers represent a player in desperate need to get out of the spot light and somewhere that he can obtain help breaking down his swing and approach while building his confidence.

Nothing is for certain on what path Middlebrooks’ career will take. Farrell fielded questions on if sending Middlebrooks down in favor of the hot hitting Iglesias is an option. Farrell said “If there comes a point where we feel like he’s not getting enough reps, maybe [ sending Middlebrooks to the minors] comes into the discussion a little bit more, but that’s not imminent right now.” However, it sure seems that it has already become imminent as Middlebrooks is out of the lineup in favor of Iglesias again today, and has been out of the lineup for 5 of the last 6 games. It is fair to assume that if Iglesias keeps hitting as he is and Middlebrooks continues to slump, Middlebrooks is going to see a decreased amount of playing time. Less playing time for Middlebrooks will only further hurt him and his batting slump. Sending down Middlebrooks may help him out more than decreased time against harder pitching at the MLB level.

As for Middlebrooks, he seems to be taking all of this as best as one could. When asked about his struggles and Iglesias seeing more playing time he responded with “I’m a competitor. I want to play every day. I understand the circumstances, I understand how well he’s played, and like I’ve said to several people, I’m happy for him.” He went on to say “He’s worked hard to get where he is, and he deserves everything he’s getting right now. I’m not going to be mad, I’m not going to be jealous. He’s my teammate. I’m happy for him. Am I disappointed in myself? Absolutely. That’s what I can control. I control how hard I work and what I do to perform.” This sounds like a player who has accepted that he may need time out of Boston to get him back to where he needs to be.

This is something to keep an eye on. Iglesias is undoubtedly the better hitter at the time being. However, his BABIP of .494 is out of this world will-middlebrooks1and unlikely to continue at this pace. When his BABIP drops to a more realistic long-term number, it will be interesting to see where his production level will be. It is very likely he could still be a great hitter and deserving of an everyday job. If Middlebrooks turns it around, it could pose an issue to Farrell, especially if Drew gets hot. That is a great problem to have and the Red Sox will have to deal with that when and if that time comes. For now, it is time to make a move with Middlebrooks and help him fix his struggles now so that he has the possibility to help this team later down the road. Sending him back down to Pawtucket is his best move. Whatever the Red Sox choose we all would like to see him turn it around and fast.

Tyler Moore- MLB Contributor- Title Town Sports

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