Former #RedSox 3B Will Middlebrooks, who suffered a serious injury to his left leg in spring training with the #Phillies last season, is retiring. Played parts of six MLB seasons and had 17 HRs for the ’13 WS-champion Sox.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) January 11, 2019
Though in a much, much smaller sample size and not nearly as popular a player as No. 5 ever was, I could never shake the parallel between the two guy’s careers. Just like Nomar Garciaparra, Will Middlebrooks was a young, homegrown talent that raked when he got to Fenway as a rookie in 2012. Hit for power, hit for average, looked like a staple in your lineup for years to come. Until a fastball caught them both in the wrist, vastly altering the projection of their careers. Nomar rebounded and made a few more All-Star teams, but was never again the same player as the one who flirted with hitting .400 before the injury.
Middlebrooks effectively fell off a cliff after the broken wrist. Before the injury Middlebrooks was hitting .288 his rookie year with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in just 286 Plate Appearance. His emergence at third base was part of the reason the Red Sox traded fan favorite Kevin Youkilis just two months before.
Thankfully Middlebrooks locked down a ride or die woman in Jenny Dell because he was never the same player. In 2013 he hit 17 home runs, just 2 more than he had in his breakout rookie campaign with nearly 100 more Plate Appearances, and his average dropped 61 points. Unfortunately he never hit double digit home runs in a season again, plagued by injuries, as his Batting Average hovered around the Mendoza Line for the rest of his career.
It’s a damn shame because I remember watching him and seeing huge potential.
Either way, Will Middlebrooks will always be remembered as a key cog in the 2013 World Series winning team as well as party to one of the weirdest plays in World Series history.
Can’t take away that championship ring though. Congrats Will, enjoy retirement.