Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was batting .333/.380/.677 with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 100 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket at the time of his promotion to the major leagues. And he’s barely slowed down at the next level.
Middlebrooks went 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and two RBI in Saturday’s 8-4 defeat of the Braves.
The 23-year-old native of Greenville, Texas now boasts a .960 OPS, nine homers and 33 RBI through the first 40 games of his major league career. That RBI total through 40 games is the most for any American League rookie since Wally Joyner drove in 38 for the Angels back in 1986. And the most in baseball since Albert Pujols tallied 44 RBI in his first 40 games with the Cardinals to open the 2001 season.
Middlebrooks is here to stay. And Kevin Youkilis is on the move — possibly to the White Sox.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.