2013 Projection: Why Will Middlebrooks Could Easily Be Overvalued On Draft Day

Prior to an injury cutting his season short, Will Middlebrooks burst onto the scene and made fantasy owners take notice. A highly touted prospect, no one really expected this type of instant success, especially in 2012 (since the majority of people expected him not debut in the Majors until 2013):

267 At Bats
.288 Batting Average (77 hits)
15 Home Runs
54 RBI
34 Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.325 On Base Percentage
.509 Slugging Percentage
.335 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Ranked by Baseball America as the team’s top prospect (51st in all of baseball), it is not like everyone anticipated poor numbers. However, this was taking it to the extreme and could easily be viewed as his absolute ceiling. The problem is, others in your league may not view it as such, inflating the price to the point that he shouldn’t be a target.

At the time of their ranking, Baseball America said regarding his power:

“He continues to learn more about his swing and increase his home run production each year, with more to come in the future. Right now, most of his homers come to the opposite field and are line drives that carry out of the park. With his bat speed and the strength in his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame, he could hit 25 or more homers a season if he turns on more pitches and adds more loft to his stroke.”

The pace he set last season would’ve far exceeded 25 over a full year. Maybe he matured and developed more than expected? Perhaps, but a 21.4% HR/FB screams for a regression. Keep that in mind when viewing him.  It is not impossible that he develops into a 30+ HR hitter, but it is not something I would bank on.

As for the average, that too is incredibly unstable. Last season he posted a strikeout rate of 24.5%, justifiable after he posted a 22.9% mark in the minor leagues over the past two seasons.

Across three levels in 2011 he posted a strikeout rate of 24.0%. When coupled with a lack of walks (4.5%) in the Majors, as well as a potential for a fall in his BABIP and power numbers, it becomes very realistic that he comes in under .270.

Throw in a weaker than normal Red Sox lineup and suddenly there are more concerns then we know what to do with. It all comes together for the following 2013 projection:

.271 (149-550), 25 HR, 85 RBI, 80 R, 7 SB, .336 BABIP, .314 OBP, .469 SLG

Is Middlebrooks a player with a ton of potential and upside? Absolutely, but he also carries with him significant risk. There are ample young 3B with upside, like Mike Moustakas, Brett Lawrie or Kyle Seager, that there is no need to reach for Middlebrooks. Just something to keep in mind as you prepare for your draft.

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Make sure to check out all of our 2013 projections:

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