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Will Middlebrooks is the reason the Red Sox felt it was okay to trade away Youkilis.  Well, that and the fact that Youk and Bobby Valentine were bickering like they were in the final rose ceremony and Red Sox fans were the Bachelor.  “He told me he doesn’t love you, and he’s only using you so he can be on the cover of People magazine for the next two years talking about how his heart was broken.”  That’s Youk pleading his case.  Then Bobby V. started singing Rihanna’s Diamonds, and the fans chose Valentine and that romance lasted about as long as the usual Bachelor romance.  Now Youk is a Yank for symmetry sake, Valentine returned to inventing new sandwich types, “I call this the Naanwich.  A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Naanwich is a gentrified sandwich,” and Middlebrooks was left behind with the Red Sox 3rd base job and the six hole of the lineup (depending on Napoli’s signing).  Last year, Middlebrooks’s stats were stacked like a d’brickhouse (the D is silent).  In 286 plate appearances, he hit 15 homers and .288 with 4 steals when his season was cut short with a fractured wrist.  He should be healed for Spring Training.  So, what can we expect of Will Middlebrooks for 2013 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

If you want to find the best case scenario for most players, but especially Red Sox players, just look at Bill James’s projections.  He has Middlebrooks’s 2013 line as 75/29/99/.277/11.  So, basically he’s going to be a top three fantasy 3rd baseman.  That Middlebrooks line gives me the O face.  Not as in the orgasm face, but as in “Ooookay.”  Extra o’s for sarcasm, not because of a sticky keyboard.  Last year, Middlebrooks’s HR/FB% was 21.4.   That would’ve been the 10th highest in the major leagues.  That’s high.  I’d take 15% and be happy.  Fenway does help right handers, but expecting 21.4% is a lot to expect.  Let’s say, 17%.  Look at his fly ball rate and you see 35%. That would’ve been 73rd best in the majors.  That takes you around players like Zobrist, Michael Saunders, Pedroia, Holliday, Yadier, Angel Pagan, Chris Johnson and Ackley.  You can count the number of 30-homer hitters in that group on one hand if you were a Labradoodle and had no hands.  If he has 140 fly balls next year, he’s going to hit around 24 homers.  To stick with the dog theme, 24 homers is not sniffing 30 homer’s behind, but it’s still good.  This is all assuming his broken wrist doesn’t bother him.  His .335 BABIP is probably a tad high, but not that far off.  He’s around a .275 hitter.  His speed is like so many guys that don’t rely on stealing bases.  He could steal anywhere from five bases to fifteen.  Probably be close to ten.  None of this is bad for a 3rd baseman that’ll come later in drafts.  For 2013, I’ll give him the line of 68/22/82/.278/8.  The steals push him above a younger version of The Greek God of Limps that he is replacing, and he’s definitely a sleeper with upside.

  1. chunk says:
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    7 days….

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @chunk: Oh, yeah…

  2. Ned Shakeshaft says:
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    Only caveat I have on this guy is that wrists are tricky. Speaking from personal experience (going all George Plimpton on you), you might think your wrist is back to 100% when in reality it’s not even close.

    I worry about Bautista, too. I realize there was no break there, but he was out with that problem a long time, with setbacks. Plus he’s a knob-grabber, so he’s at risk to repeat (unless he changes where he holds the bat, which might take some adjustment time).

    Middlebrooks is a knob-grabber, too, but his break was on his top hand.

    • Connolly206 says:
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      I dare you to call them knob-grabbers to their face!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Ned Shakeshaft: I like all of this knob-grabbing talk… Yeah, the wrist could be an issue… Hard to say for sure… Hopefully it’ll be clarified in the spring… Think Middlebrooks can still be good value later in the draft…

  3. Dr. Freeze says:
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    Seeing how this website has been so good to me over the years I thought you should be the first to know that I’m hosting Saturday Night Live this week.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Dr. Freeze: Thanks for the heads up! Good luck! Make sure you ‘accidentally’ crack up during a sketch, that’s always the funniest…

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @Dr. Freeze: Let me be the first to say I love you even more now, Kelly Bundy!

  4. JustMatt says:
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    Grey – two years ago, around this time, I found your site. It took me a couple weeks to figure out your name was not January Grey. I do, however, enjoy me some January Grey. It’s so peaceful here this time of year. Anyway, thanks for the past two years. I play in an ultra-competitive auction league and followed-up a second place finish with my first championship this past year using only your rankings at my draft. I’m hoping a couple of your sleepers make it to the draft as sleepers this season. In Rios, I believed. Thanks. How far away from 2013 Razzball rankings are we?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @JustMatt: Nice! Rankings start next Monday, the 14th…

  5. OaktownSteve says:
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    Seems like you’ve been spending a little time on Fangraphs this year. Noticed a little SABR-sleuthing creeping into the posts. I agree with your analysis. I doubt he’ll qualify as a sleeper as he’s a Red Stocking. I’m thinking there needs to be a Razzball term for guys that are sleepers on the Yankees or Red Sox. Something like park bench sleepers or John and Yoko. They may be sleepers but they are right there in public view.

    • Jay29 says:
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      @OaktownSteve: Yeah, I’ve noticed the slow influx of SABR over the past several months, too. Last year I had a beef with a lot of Grey’s projections — this year I think we will agree quite a lot, as I take a very similar approach to projections to what he’s doing now.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Ah… The Bed In… If Only had Photoshop skills and could put Will Middlebrooks next to them in PJ’s…

  6. PublicEnemy#1 says:
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    Just found out I have first pick in my draft this year (standard 5×5). We keep three players in the round we got them in last season. My three keepers this year will be Trout (R27), Goldschmidt (R20) and Posey (R12).

    With the first pick, would you go Mig or Braun?

    Also, would you keep Medlen (R13), Adam Jones (R10) or Kipnis (R17) over the keepers I mentioned above? Gracias Sr. Mustachio!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @PublicEnemy#1: Miggy…. I’d go with the keepers you have…

  7. Mark Robinson says:
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    Starting to feel the pressure of which 3 keepers I hold on to in a league I easily won last year.

    Keeping Trout is the easiest choice, but then it gets tricky between Harper, Allen Craig, Kimbel, Wil Myers, Medlen, and Aroldis. Thoughts?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Harper, Aroldis…

  8. Big AL says:
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    I like Middlebrooks a lot.That’s me wagging my tail.I am worried about the wrist.Tail between the legs. But he’s a right-handed hitter and plays in Fenway. When a player’s gets hot there you can put up some big stats fast.Kinda like when the girl poodle walks into the backyard through the loose board. Things can happen in a hurry. That’s me running around in circle’s thanking everybody. Loved playing Cody Ross there, against lefties in Fenway.Middlebrooks has big potential because he plays 81 games there.
    We have all spring to judge how the wrist is doing. So I’m taking your advise and looking to draft him, if I can get him later in the draft.He’ll be a good #2 third baseman and when he’s playing in Fenway plug him in the DH spot in your lineup.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Ha… You’re barking up the right tree…

  9. Atari says:
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    Grey,

    Can I get your thoughts on Justin Ruggiano? I figure he could be a useful deep sleeper, even if last year he had a BABIP-influenced line.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I’ll be going over every player in detail in the rankings… I don’t like Ruggiano…

  10. El Famous Burrito says:
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    Long-term dynasty question: J. Upton or Heyward?

    Also, did you see the new crop of fatties on Biggest Loser last night? Early pick?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Upton… I Tivo’d BL but haven’t watched yet… Hope to watch tonight… I watched Looper last night… Great movie, if you haven’t seen it yet…

      • El Famous Burrito says:
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        @Grey:

        I just caught Looper this weekend. Much better than what I was expecting.

        JGL was kind of…weird-looking? Like some odd makeup choices or something.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Yeah, they added a nose prosthetic to make him more like Willis… It bothered me at first but got used to it…

    • Jash says:
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      @El Famous Burrito: lmao, just spat out my food onto my computer thanks

  11. Sky

    Sky says:
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    There’s no such thing as a BoSox sleeper. You know this and I know this. Too many homers expect 50 homers from every homer that dons a Bawstin jersey.

    That said, Middlebrooks should be a sleeper this year. Let’s hope he stays that way.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      C’mon, man, it’s homah…

      • Sky

        Sky says:
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        @Grey: Obviously my west coast accent is showing. Let me try and again:

        Nomah is the wikkid best playah on da best ball team evah

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Until that MTV girl, Mia, got a hold of him…

  12. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Baaston ranked 23rd in runs scored and rbi after the break in 2012. I like Mbrooks, Would LOVE him on A’s, who ranked, wait for it, wait for it…

    #1 in runs, #2 in rbi after the break in 2012 (is that a typo?)

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Boston also had two key hitters injured and A’s were on an improbable run…

  13. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Get it RE: injuries, but how does one explain that improbable run? It happened. But, how…? #1 in all of baseball with 112 HRs hitting in OAK, SEA, yadda, yadda…

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      re: improbable run, the magic of movies and Billy Beane… And only once shall the two meet…

  14. Jack Full of Hate says:
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    middlebrooks vs. lawrie, also who is going to bat 3,4,5 for the bosox?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Lawrie… Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli…

      • OaktownSteve says:
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        @Grey:

        I’m a little torn on Lawrie. I’m concerned that the only power numbers he’s showed are super inflated PCL. He absolutely beat the ball into the ground last year. I think there’ll be some momentum forward in his ADP as everybody is now clued in to the “post-hype” sleeper concept. There’s this odd meta-world in fantasy sports now where we profile players as sleepers but then you can see them labeled as such in hundred different places on the interwebs. So my point with Lawrie is I’d love him maybe Rnd 6 or later and wouldn’t mind the 15 or so bags from 3b that seem like a reasonable floor, but I don’t think he’s going to last that long given the craptacularity of the choices at the postion.

        The guy I like at 3rd right now is Encarnacion. Everybody has got that Bautista-like warriness about the sudden rise in production, but the numbers seem to suggest the improvement is mostly sustainable. Early ADP he’s looking like a third rounder, going after Longoria and right together with Zimmerman.

        • OaktownSteve says:
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          @OaktownSteve:

          oh yeah…’cept E2 doesn’t qualify at 3rd this year. *slaps forehead*

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          re: Edwin, 30 homers and a .260 average seems in line for him… His line last year looks better last year due to a higher than normal average and steals that have never been to that degree before… Plus, he was always injury prone…

      • Jack Full of Hate says:
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        @Grey: do you have a projection worked out on Lawrie or do I need to wait for that special content? and where do you see him batting in torontos line-up?

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          I have projections worked out, but I don’t know them off the top of my head… They’ll be up next week…

          • Jack Full of Hate says:
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            @Grey: this is my buddies team in his whack ass keeper league, he has miggy but has to trade him this year because his clock is up. His other keeper options are Felix, Elvis, lawrie, and middlebrooks. I told him to keep lawrie and middlebrooks because most likely he will get votto, braun, or fieldder for him and since they play 2 util, then he is good. i think elvis is just going to be mediocre again and I don’t like keeping pitchers. also having a monoply on the up and coming 3rd basemen gives him a little more trade leverage when longo and zimmerman get hurt. any thoughts?

  15. Big Magoo says:
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    I saw that John was sent home on top chef last week. Here’s hoping that I won’t have to see Josie any longer after this week. Btw, I know it doesn’t mean anything this early, but have you seen some of the ADPs over at mockdraftcentral? Must not be any Brewers fans mocking yet – Fiers 213, Gomez 224, Segura 225, Estrada 229. Any sleeper posts brewing on those guys?

    • Big Magoo says:
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      @Big Magoo: I meant besides Segura on the sleeper posts

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Other Brewers are brewing…

      • Big Magoo says:
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        @Grey: Let’s not get silly – I think I’d rather gouge my own eyes out than watch that show. Although I guess watching Josie is almost as bad.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Ha… True…

    • JoeC says:
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      @Big Magoo: I loved how John tried to pass off that he was such a good guy because he actually let the other competitor use the ingredient they were supposed to showcase. What a guy!

      Josie is nails on a chalkboard bad, but she provided a good laugh last episode by lecturing us about how to eat healthily. Thanks, sausage fingers!

  16. Worm Turner says:
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    Been eagerly waiting for the Middlebrooks write-up.
    I have a 3B keeper problem in my linear weights points league.
    There Can Only Be One:
    $4 Prado- has LF elig which is nice as its the weakest of the 3 OF pos.
    $4 Machado, love me some Manny.
    $1 Middlebrooks, such a bargain but more upside than Machito, think not?
    Thoughts are welcome!
    Thx

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      It’s between Manny and Middlebrooks… I’d go Manny…

  17. AA says:
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    I have Miggy, Cano, Trout, Pujols, Beltre, Cain, and Medlen…which 5 do I keep? Thanks.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Miggy, Cano, Trout, Pujols, Cain…

      • AA says:
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        What’s your thoughts on Dread Pirate? Would it be wise to offer up Pujols and Beltre or Cain for him. The guy that currently owns him doesn’t have very good keeper options. He may be willing to part with one keeper for 2. Or should I just hold with the 5 you recommended?

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Hold the five I recommend…

    • Jeff says:
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      @AA:

      You aren’t going to keep Medlen anyways, and I’d rather McCutchen than Pujols in a keeper. Offer up Medlen and Pujols for McCutchen and see what happens.

  18. Eddy says:
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    Plenty of 3B and 1B sleepers this year, huh?

    Does that mean we’re attacking OF first this year?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Look at you, figuring me out… Shh…

      • Eddy says:
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        @Grey: Oh you.

  19. Steve says:
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    Still working up to my first FBB question of 2013. In the meantime (and I realise I’m about 20 years late on this), have just started in on Simon’s Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets. Haven’t got that far but looks real good.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      The book? I haven’t read it… The show was excellent for its time and place… Have you watched Breaking Bad yet?

      • Steve says:
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        @Grey: Yeah, the book.

        Breaking Bad? *shuffles feet, bows head* Not Yet.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Knock it out… You won’t regret it… It’s as good as The Wire… For serious…

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Hahahahaha…. It is good!

              • JoeC says:
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                @Grey: Oh for certain.

                And Steve, if you’re still not convinced, BB even throws in a NZ reference!

                “New Zealand… that’s where they made Lord of the Rings. I say we just move there, yo, and, I mean, you can do your art, right? Like, you can paint the local castles and sh**, and I can be a bush pilot.”

                • Steve says:
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                  @JoeC: That clinches it! *checks no one is looking, heads to torrent site*

                  • JoeC says:
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                    @Steve: Just to clarify, no one in the show actually moves to New Zealand… unless moving to New Zealand is akin to dying… then there’s plenty of it. :p

                    • Steve says:
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                      @JoeC: Unkind people might compare the two things, but I can confirm that it’s pretty sweet here :-)

                    • JoeC says:
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                      @JoeC: I believe it. I’ve only seen NZ on tv shows, but landscape-wise, it has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Or I guess wait until the winter, since you’re living the dream right now with good weather…

          • Steve says:
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            @Grey: Yeah, it has been pretty good, though I am back at work now after my summer break (sad trombone).

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Got a new favorite song… B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe by Kendrick Lamar…

              • JoeC says:
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                @Grey: Damn, that voice is ANNOYING. :)

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Whole album’s good, actually…

  20. Z says:
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    Hey Grey, thanks as always for your sage advice. Who do you think gets the better end of the following trade:

    O Taveras, T Skaggs, C Davis, J Peavey (all $1 and 1 year from a contract requirement)

    for

    M Bourn ($18, 3 more years), B Anderson and S Romo (both $1 and 1 year from a contract requirement)

    Bear in mind the team trading Taveras and Skaggs also has Profar, Machado, Marte and Shelby Miller, so holding guys in the minors or not yet ready to produce can be a concern. Please and thanks. Slaps and tickles.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Skaggs side…

  21. Jake Stone says:
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    What about Middlebrooks’s awful plate discipline? There’s some risk for a Hosmer type second season.

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