Will Middlebrooks was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2012 season and he did not disappoint, blasting 15 home runs with an .835 OPS in 286 plate appearances in the big leagues. He wasn’t nearly as good last season, slashing .227/.271/.425. As it turns out, Middlebrooks’ deteriorating vision might have been at least partially to blame for the lack of offensive output.
As Brian MacPherson writes for the Providence Journal, the Red Sox found this spring that Middlebrooks was seeing 20-25 in his right eye and 20-30 in his left. It’s nothing serious, but having his vision corrected with contact lenses allowed him to once again see the spin on the ball.
“For everyday life, you’d never correct it,” he said. “But for what I do, you need to be able to see the little things. Once I put them in, I could really see the spin on the ball. I was always just reading trajectory of the ball. I was never seeing the spin.”
Middlebrooks was careful not to use his vision as a crutch, explaining why he wasn’t so good last season. The 25-year-old third baseman said, “I wasn’t consistent with my approach and my way of thinking at the plate. That has nothing to do with my vision. That’s just decision-making. But it’s easier when you can see things.”
With Stephen Drew gone, prospect Xander Bogaerts takes over everyday at shortstop, leaving Middlebrooks with plenty of playing time at third base. The Red Sox hope that the opportunity along with the enhanced vision translates to a big season for Middlebrooks.
It’s winner-take-all tonight. The Brewers are out for their first National League pennant in franchise history, while the Dodgers will look to secure back-to-back pennant wins for the first time since 1977-78. Taking the mound: Right-handers Jhoulys Chacín and Walker Buehler, both of whom were last seen in Game 3 of the NLCS. Chacín fired 5 1/3 shutout innings of three-hit, six-strikeout ball to secure his second win of the 2018 postseason, while Buehler took his first loss after allowing four runs and striking out eight over seven innings.
Here are the lineups for Game 7:
1. Joc Pederson (L) LF
2. Max Muncy (L) 1B
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
6. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
7. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
8. Austin Barnes (R) C
9. Walker Buehler (R) P
David Freese will sit out of the Dodgers’ series finale, though he could be brought in later to pinch-hit. In his place, Max Muncy will shift from second to first base, with Chris Taylor covering second and Joc Pederson slotting into the left field corner and batting leadoff. Taylor and Puig have also swapped places in the batting order, with Puig getting bumped up to the no. 6 spot for Saturday’s game.
1. Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
2. Christian Yelich (L) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Travis Shaw (L) 2B
5. Jesús Aguilar (R) 1B
6. Mike Moustakas (L) 3B
7. Erik Kratz (R) C
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Jhoulys Chacín (R) P
Not surprisingly, there are no changes on the Brewers’ end here. They’ll try to replicate yesterday’s 7-2 stunner as they face off against Walker Buehler for a World Series berth.
Game time is scheduled for 8:09 PM EDT at Miller Park.