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9/9/1988 (28 y, 6 m, 15 d)
2007 June Amateur Draft - Round: 5, Pick: 20, Overall: 174, Team: Boston Red Sox
$0.2M / 1 Years (2017)
Middlebrooks agreed to sign a minor league deal with the Rangers on Friday, the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant reports. (11/11/2016)
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Hitting 15 homers in your first 75 major league games is a good way to get yourself noticed, but missing the end of the season is a good way to be forgotten. Middlebrooks did both of those things, though the latter wasn't by choice -- a fractured wrist cut his season short. Power sometimes comes back slowly following a wrist injury, and since power is the main part of Middlebrooks' game that could be bad news for him. But given that the Red Sox were conservative with his injury and that he will have had the entire offseason to rebuild his strength, he may not suffer the same setbacks. Many have pointed to Middlebrooks' below-average walk rate as a red flag, but closer examination shows that perhaps the concern is overblown. For starters, Middlebrooks saw more pitches per plate appearance (3.88) than league average (3.82). Second, he wasn't quite as hacktastic as his walk rate would lead you to believe -- both is O-Swing percentage and his Swing percentage were under league average. He's unlikely to ever walk more than he strikes out, but there is reason to believe that he can maintain the batting profile he posted last year. And that is a good thing. Don't let Middlebrooks slip too far in your draft. (Paul Swydan)
The Quick Opinion:
Assuming Middlebrooks is fully recovered from the wrist injury that ended his 2012 season, he could be primed for a breakout season.
Widely regarded as one of fantasy's sleeper breakout candidates in 2013, Will Middlebrooks left most of his owners with a pretty sour taste in their mouths. After swatting 15 homers in his first 286 plate appearances, Boston's young third baseman managed to follow that up with 17 in his next 374. Unfortunately, that's about the only thing Middlebrooks did right. His pathetic .227 batting average (.271 on-base percentage) crushed owners and he was so bad at the big league level, the Red Sox demoted him to Triple-A. His batted ball profile remained similar to 2012, so his .263 batting average on balls in play (.335 in 2012) was partly to blame for some of his woes. Unfortunately for a guy who struggles making contact, his strikeout and swinging strike rates both climbed from their already subpar numbers. If he could ever get his 30+% reach rate under control, he might be able to bring his walk rate up to an acceptable level, but until he makes those gains in plate discipline he's going to be difficult to trust. Further complicating efforts for Middlebrooks is the emergence of Xander Bogaerts, Boston's shortstop of the future, but possibly third baseman of the present. If it's clear Middlebrooks will get at bats at the hot corner coming out of spring training, he makes for an interesting power-upside pick late in drafts, but a lot of his prospect shine came off last year. (
The Quick Opinion:
The Middlebrooks hype balloon deflated in a big way in 2013, with the young hacker's already poor plate discipline rates further moving in the wrong direction. He still has power upside which makes him a decent pick at the back end of standard drafts, but don't reach, especially if the Red Sox keep Xander Bogaerts and another shortstop on the roster in 2014.
Could Will Middlebrooks' stock fall any further? The third baseman better known as "Jenny Dell's soon-to-be husband" saw his stats plunge for the third straight season. After swatting 32 dingers in his first 660 plate appearances, he only mashed two in 234 trips to the dish last year. And if Middlebrooks isn't hitting the ball out of the ballpark, he isn't doing anything else useful for your fantasy squad. His strikeout rate continues to climb and sat at a career high 30% last year. His averages was only .191 and you can't blame that on his batting average on balls in play which was only a little below his career average. The righty continues to struggle dealing with pitches out of the zone, swinging at nearly a third of them while missing on those swings nearly half the time. Essentially, if you are a pitcher and threw a slider in the dirt down and away, there's essentially a one in xi chance he's is just going to swing right through it. As if that story wasn't bleak enough, Middlebrooks leaves Fenway for Petco Park. While he might see more playing time, park factors are a real thing. If you're in a deep league and want to roll the dice on last year being sabotaged by injury and gamble that "Will Middlebrooks" the prospect is still in there somewhere, take him late. Otherwise, just ignore him on draft day. (Colin Zarzycki)
The Quick Opinion:
In his third big league season, Middlebrooks continued to show he's unable to lay off pitches out of the zone. Perhaps most distressingly, his power completely evaporated last year. Some of his struggles may be injury-related, but with a move to Petco Park, he's a very unappetizing option for fantasy owners.
After a down year in 2014, Will Middlebrooks was traded to San Diego last offseason to be the Padres' Opening Day third baseman. The Texas native's 22.2% strikeout rate was manageable, but his 4.1% walk rate was not, even by his standards. Middlebrooks hit .212/.241/.361 for a 67 park and league adjusted OPS, smacking nine homers in 83 games and 270 trips to the plate. He eventually lost his starting job at third base to Yangervis Solarte, and although Middlebrooks actually logged eight starts at shortstop (the first of his major league career), he was demoted to Triple-A in late July and never returned. Middlebrooks didn't exactly set the world on fire for El Paso either, as he posted a .666 OPS with four homers in 38 games and 165 plate appearances. Still just 27 years old, the infielder certainly has the power potential in his bat to be worth attention to major league clubs and as a fantasy asset, even if his reluctance to take ball four limits his ceiling. The Brewers are the next club to give Middlebrooks an opportunity after signing him to a minor league deal in the offseason with an invite to Spring Training to compete for the club's wide open third-base job. If Middlebrooks can come out on top over Jonathan Villar, Garin Cecchini, and others, he could be hitting homers for Milwaukee while trying to post an average over .227 or an on-base percentage over .271 for the first time since his rookie year in '12. (Dylan Higgins)
The Quick Opinion:
Middlebrooks had the opportunity to show off his power with San Diego last season but was instead sunk by his struggles to reach base. Still in his prime, he will be worth taking a flier on in deeper formats if he can come out of Spring Training on top with the starting third-base job for the Brewers -- although fantasy owners shouldn't expect much in terms of batting average.
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Updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017 3:37 AM ET
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