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.