By Jeff Louderback
Though it is far from reminiscent of when Kevin Youkilis could have won American League MVP in 2008 if not for the exploits of one Dustin Pedroia, rookie Will Middlebrooks was named American League Player of the Week on the day when he is set to officially become the starting third baseman of the Boston Red Sox.
Over six games last week, Middlebrooks was 10-for-16 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI and six runs. Since he was summoned from Triple-A Pawtucket, Middlebrooks is batting .326 with nine home runs, 34 RBI and a .949 OPS.
Middlebrooks was considered the Red Sox organization’s top overall prospect entering the season. At Pawtucket, the 23-year-old right-handed hitter posted a .333 average with nine home runs, 27 RBI and a 1.057 OPS in 93 at-bats before he was called up last month when he was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a stolen base in his major league debut against Oakland on May 2.
The emergence of Middlebrooks as a run-producing third baseman allowed the Red Sox to deal Youkilis, move Adrian Gonzalez back to first base (where he is a Gold Glover) and make sure Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish and Cody Ross are in the starting lineup in the outfield.