There is no questioning that Middlebrooks is a skilled ballplayer. He put up a .302/.345/.520 line with 18 home runs in 397 plate appearances at Double-A last season and started the 2012 season on fire, tearing up Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .333/.380/.677 line with nine home runs in 100 plate appearances. Since being called to The Show, he hasn't exactly slowed down...at all. Coming into today, Middlebrooks was hitting .381/.380/.952 (no, that's not a .952 OPS, that's a .952 SLG!) with three long balls in only 22 plate appearances (he doubled in his first at-bat as I started writing this).
Why sell high you ask? Let's look no further than another recent Red Sox youngster, Josh Reddick.
Upon his call-up last season, Reddick scorched Major League pitching, hitting .393/.429/.672 before the all-star break. He also was the recipient of some help from good 'ole Mr. BABIP. Two things then happened: pitchers made adjustments and Mr. BABIP moved on to bigger and better things. In the second half of the season, Reddick's line fell to .244/.293/.389.
I'm not implying that Reddick and Middlebrooks are the same type of hitter -- though both lack a keen sense of plate discipline -- but I am saying that unproven young hitters always run the risk of falling off a cliff. There are very few youngsters that come out of the gates like a Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria or Puster Posey and maintain a high level of production over the long-haul of the season.
Middlebrooks has a lot going for him right now. He's hitting for AVG (.381 BABIP inflated), power (33-percent HR/FB inflated) and he plays third base. The time is now to eye down that owner who lost Longo or Panda and offer him the hottest young hitter in baseball (for now, at least).
P.S. An then there's the whole question as to what happens when Youk gets back.