The Sox just released their lineup for tonight's game against the Indians and there's one major omission: Will Middlebrooks. Will will be replaced by Pedro Ciriaco at the hot corner after going two for his last 30.
Aside from that Toronto game in which he hit three home runs a combined 6,000 feet, Middlebrooks has been atrocious this year. He got off on a bad foot by playing opening day through a pretty serious fever, but he hasn't been able to recover.
His big problem continues to be plate discipline. He's got just three walks on the year versus 18 strikeouts. If you check out his Fangraphs page you can see that his swing percentages both in and out of the strike zone are far higher than league averages -- 32% vs. 28% on pitches outside the zone, 68% vs. 64% inside the zone, and 50% vs. 45% overall. His contact percentages -- perhaps obviously -- go the other way, as he's well down on contact both in and outside the zone as well.
How well he matures and advances in this respect will say a lot about what kind of career Will is going to have. It's a similar situation Jacoby Ellsbury faced early on, when he seemed to be more of a free-swinging slap hitter. He got much more patient and became much more feared.
Can Middlebrooks do the same? We'll have to hope so, because he seems to be the full package. He's at least to this point not done anything controversial off the field, and his defense appears to be a plus. He's obviously got the power when he does make contact. Now we just need to see if he can start seeing the ball better, and putting a better swing on the ball when he gets the chance. Hopefully a day off is the first step in the right direction.