To the common eye, the Boston Red Sox are in a real hole when it comes to third base next season. Will Middlebrooks is struggling, Brock Holt is slumping and Garin Cecchini is not ready to take over the big league job. Although Cecchini is an appealing option at third, he is still a few hundred AAA at-bats away from being ready for the big league level. As controversial as it may sound, Will Middlebrooks is the most likely candidate to win the starting third base job next season.
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Sure, he got demoted last year for having the lowest OBP in the league and sure he is not exactly hitting above the Mendoza Line this year, but it is not time to give up on Will Middlebrooks. Although a .182/.249/.260 slash line for the 26-year-old Texas native in 53 games may say otherwise, it is still way too early to give up hope.
Keep in mind—this is the same guy who clubbed a homerun once in every less than 20 at-bats in 2012-2013. This is the same guy who slugged .500 against lefties in that same time frame. Is he playing as well now? Absolutely not.
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Since the All-Star break, Brock Holt’s slash line has plummeted down to .219/.278/.271 in 45 games. A sub-.300 OBP is never a good sign, but Holt is still, nonetheless, a valuable contributor to a big league club. Perhaps he may take some reps at third base next season dependent on the performance of Will Middlebrooks early-on-in.
Middlebrooks will be spending some time in winter ball this offseason, but right now it is not apparent when or where. Of course giving him some extra at-bats will be beneficial, especially when he gets to work with different hitting instructors. He may learn something new there or get back in a groove — at this point it could not hurt to try. Who knows? Maybe he finally gets to play in 140 games and unleash that 30-homerun power Bill James and many other great baseball minds dream of.