Has Mike Napoli Been Good or Bad for the Boston Red Sox?

By Shaun P Kernahan
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2013 season, the Boston Red Sox had a preliminary three-year contract with Mike Napoli, but after concerns over a degenerative hip disease, the contract was reduced to a one-year, incentive heavy deal. Napoli has stepped in and been a regular at first base for the Red Sox, met all his incentives, and has seemed to be very good in clutch situations this season, but has he really been a good player for the Red Sox?

It has been a very up and down year for Napoli. In April, he drove in 27 runs, then followed it up by hitting just a single home run in June. Napoli has also set a new Red Sox single season record for strikeouts in a season, while setting a career high in RBIs.

So far this season, Napoli has a triple slash line right in line with his career average while setting career highs in hits and walks, and has a chance to set a career-high in games played. Napoli has brought a new attitude to the Red Sox, and have started the beard phenomenon in Boston along with Jonny Gomes.

While the counting numbers are all on pace to be as good as any season in Napoli’s career, the best part about his season is the fact he is only signed for one season, and not three. The incredible jump in strikeout percentage to a career high 32.4 percent is a giant red flag.

Napoli also has a career-high BABIP, a near career-low home run percentage, and the second-highest K/BB of his career. What do all these numbers mean? Simple, Mike Napoli has performed well beyond his advanced metrics, and is primed for a massive regression next season. The Red Sox should enjoy what they got from him this season, and look elsewhere for a first base option next season.

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