Will Middlebrooks thriving while hitting 9th

Andre K. takes a look at Will Middlebrooks hitting behind everyone, because just like we learned at Middle School dances, everyone looks better from behind. Well, most of us, at least.

The days of Will Middlebrooks being a burden in the Red Sox lineup are long gone. After an atrocious start to the season which led to a call down to AAA, Middlebrooks has risen up from the ashes and quietly become a major contributor to the Red Sox lineup.

Since his August 10 call-up from Pawtucket, Middlebrooks has raised his average from .192 to a more respectable .237. During this period, Middlebrooks has managed to reach base in every start but two. He’s hitting .350 since the All-Star break and his power numbers have returned too, as he’s on pace to surpass his home run totals from last year.

Will Middlebrooks

WMB Tagging people in the face. Story of our life, right? (Credit: Keith Allison, FLICKR)

Prior to his offensive surge, Middlebrooks struggled mightily in the first half of the season. His only highlight came off the field when he tweeted, “Messed with the wrong city” after the Marathon attacks. However, the tweet exemplified his leadership and professionalism, a characteristic of Middlebrooks which has also been demonstrated by his willingness to hit from the No. 9 spot.

Most players who have hit in the heart of the order in their career, would not be too thrilled about hitting dead last in the order. However, Middlebrooks has embraced his role in the bottom of the order, racking up an OPS of 1.178.

Middlebrooks’ domination from the 9-spot is reminiscent of Bill Mueller a decade ago, who embraced his role to the point where he became somewhat of a baseball anomaly – a batting champion hitting last in the order.

Perhaps the best course of action for the Red Sox is to keep Middlebrooks at that spot. He seems to be comfortable there and there’s no better way to return to the top of the lineup than with men on base. It’s like having a secret weapon in the playoffs. And hey – there’s also something to be said for a guy who wants to be here, is willing to accept his role and is more focused on helping this team win than where he’s hitting. After three consecutive seasons of immense disappointment, some of which was due to some difficult personality clashes – it’s refreshing to see.

Needless to say, the Red Sox have to be relieved that Middlebrooks has rediscovered his stroke at the plate again. Last month at this time, there were many questions at third base as the Red Sox would rotate between Brandon Snyder and Brock Holt, who both struggled. This prompted the team to call up Middlebrooks. Now, the Red Sox can consider the hot corner as a strength as they have added yet another hot bat to an already potent lineup.

Categories: Bill Mueller Brandon Snyder Brock Holt Will Middlebrooks

About Andre Khatchaturian

View all posts by Andre Khatchaturian
Born in the sunbaked valleys of Southern California, Andre Khatchaturian grew up idolizing Mo Vaughn and as a result, became one of the members of Red Sox Nation West. Andre would later graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in Mathematical Economics. Wanting to pursue his passions, Andre became involved in sports analytics and has immersed himself in independent quantitative sports research since graduation. This led to his hiring at ESPN in the Stats & Information Group at Bristol, CT where he will be working part-time this year as he works on his Masters degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University. He was a proud attendee of Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS and wonders why this game has slowly become one of the forgotten gems in Red Sox history. Follow him on Twitter @AndreKhatch.

2 Responses to “Will Middlebrooks thriving while hitting 9th” Subscribe

  1. Andre Khatchaturian September 8, 2013 at 6:17 PM #

    @CRM Good call. He did hit 7th and 8th plenty of times though – not a spot where a batting champion usually hits from