Mike Napoli: Hip to be K'd

The Guru
Contributing Writer

It’s a well-known fact that Fenway fans, while faithful, are not the most patient bunch. Both are waning when it comes to Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli.

All the cheers of April and May have been replaced with the sounds of Napoli swinging and missing. Again and again.

Napoli currently leads the American League with 147 strikeouts. His strikeout percentage is a career high 34%. Since July, Napoli has swung and missed on 42% of the pitches he has faced.

Napoli was mashing through May with a .260 average, 8 home runs, 40 RBI and was slugging over .500. Since June 1, Napoli is hitting .200 with 6 home runs, 24 RBI and slugging just .340.

This week has been particularly bad. Napoli is 0 for his last 14, has struck out six times and has left 23 runners on base. His average has dropped to .251, .214 with runners in scoring position.

But it's Napoli's propensity for striking out that causes so much fan irritation and frustration.

While no out is a good out, there is such a thing as a bad out. Follow me? An out that puts a ball in play is better than one that doesn’t. A runner can score from third on a ground out in the infield or a fly ball to the outfield. Strike out and no one is going anywhere. Except Mike Napoli. Back to the bench.

“I’ve always been streaky,” Napoli told Boston.com two weeks ago. “If I knew why, I wouldn’t do it.”

Is Napoli Hurt? His degenerative hip condition is the reason he’s playing on a one-year $13 million contract rather than the original three-year $39 million he signed. However, a recent MRI revealed everything is good when it comes to the hip. Napoli is actually third on the Sox in games played at 103. Health does not seem to be the issue.

It’s not all bad with Napoli. He’s leads the team in doubles (28), is second in home runs (14), third in RBI (64) and third on the team in runs scored (58). It’s just the fact most of his production occurred early in the season and fans want more.

“When I get hot, I get real hot,” Napoli said “Maybe I’ll do it the last two months into the playoffs. That would be awesome.”

It sure would. Fenway’s Faithful are getting restless.

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