It is very rare for one player to lead a team in every offensive category over the course of a season. However, Mike Napoli is doing just that for the Boston Red Sox in 2014, leading the way in batting average, home runs, RBI, OBP, and SLG. Napoli is one of the more consistent forces in the Red Sox lineup, challenging opposing pitchers while keeping the team within striking distance of a .500 record.
With all he has accomplished over the past two years, Napoli has established himself as one of the unsung heroes of the Red Sox offense, becoming a cornerstone that is hard to replace at first base.
In 24 games, Napoli has been a light in the dark for a struggling Red Sox offense, hitting .304 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. At this rate, Napoli is gunning for career highs in home runs and RBI, while giving the Red Sox an offensive spark. Napoli, 32, has always been known for his power, but his newfound consistency on the offensive side of the plate has helped him become a more well-rounded first baseman during his tenure with the Red Sox.
Initially a catcher, Napoli decided to become a full-time first baseman when he joined the Red Sox in 2013 due to avascular necrosis in both hips. Despite health limitations, Napoli has managed to play in a majority of his games at first base, becoming a rock in the infield.
Napoli is successful as a first baseman because of his assertiveness and fearlessness. In the same week, Napoli demonstrated this while sustaining two injuries that would sideline some players for weeks. His resilience and ability to play through pain has made him an icon with the Red Sox. However, his fearlessness when facing new pitchers also makes him a feared figure in the batters box.
The pitchers that Napoli has homered against this year (Ubaldo Jimenez, Wily Peralta, Ivan Nova, Darren O’Day and Masahiro Tanaka) all have solid track records, giving each of Napoli’s home runs in 2014 more meaning. With his solid power numbers, the Red Sox are able to have more confidence in an offense that is ranked 13th in MLB with 22 home runs.
In essence, Napoli has established himself as one of the unsung heroes for the Red Sox offense in 2014. Napoli is looking to build off a solid April with great contributions for the rest of the season as the Red Sox look to return to the postseason in October.