2012: 75 games, .288 BA, .325 OBP, .509 SLG, 15 HR, 54 RBI
2013 projection: 153 games, .277 BA, .316 OBP, .490 SLG, 29 HR, 99 RBI
2013: 94 games, .227 BA, .271 OBP, .425 SLG, 17 HR, 49 RBI
2014 projection: 145 games, .266 BA, .310 OBP, .490 SLG, 32 HR, 102 RBI
2014: 63 games, .191 BA, .256 OBP, .265 SLG, 2 HR, 19 RBI
2015 projection: 127 games, .244 BA, .292 OBP, .418 SLG, 19 HR, 70 RBI
Will Middlebrooks has had his fair share of setbacks in his first few years. He's been shuttled back and forth to Pawtucket for seasoning and rehab, and this year he played his fewest games in Boston since his debut in 2012.
Middlebrook's calf strain in April, followed shortly by a broken finger, were probably among the first signs that 2014 would be a disappointing year. In the games he actually managed to stay on the field, his numbers were underwhelming.
Bill James' projections for Middlebrooks represent a huge jump in productivity over his injury-shortened 2014, but if we're being honest with ourselves they're really not up to snuff for a corner infielder in the American League.
Doubtless the Red Sox front office has been aware of this for quite some time, and I trust Ben Cherington to have some ideas up his sleeves if Middlebrooks become yet another prospect who can't live up to the hype.
As with most home-grown prospects, Middlebrooks is a fan favorite. But all the fans in the world rooting for him won't force him to make the adjustments necessary to be the lineup-anchoring force the Red Sox need him to be. That's up to him.