Jun 21, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox first basemen Mike Napoli (12) at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Option A: Hope Napoli gets better
This option is already outdated, not to mention how ridiculous it will seem by the trade deadline, but the Red Sox theoretically could do this. Napoli has been atrocious at the plate all season long (aside from a scintillating week-long stretch in late May) and that simply isn’t cutting it at first base.
Though his strikeout and walk rates are essentially right on line with his career averages, he has suffered from an abysmal .231 BABIP. Under normal circumstances, that would be an indication of bad luck to this point in the season. However, Napoli’s poor performance this season has clearly not simply been a manifestation of hitting hard liners right at fielders all over the place.
Napoli is posting the lowest isolated power mark of his career and his line drive rate has slipped to a career-low 13.7% this season. Similarly, according to FanGraphs, he has made the least hard contact of his career (27.9% this season versus 34.5% in his career) while making the most soft contact (21.3% versus 14.6%).
The 2015 iteration of Napoli is just not the player we’ve come to know and love. Napoli has become a fan favorite in Boston thanks to his role during the 2013 World Championship, but there’s a time to cut ties and that time is now. Yes, the Red Sox could just sit back and hope he improves, but that’s just not a realistic possibility at this point.