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Entries in Mike Napoli (13)


Whiffing the Count

Peter Abraham has an interesting article today, oddly placed on the front page (?!?) of the Boston Globe. The piece is somewhat of a validation of the Red Sox who set a franchise record with 1,308 strikeouts during the regular season and have added 106 more strikeouts in 10 postseason games.

The premise of his piece is that teams are willing to accept high strikeout totals if their hitters are disciplined and provide home run hitting power.

Abraham's focal point is Mike Napoli, who set a Sox franchise record with 187 strikeouts this season, but also hit 38 doubles and 23 home runs.

“You’d prefer somebody hit for power and not strike out often,” Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen told Abraham. “But those guys are the superstars and they’re fairly rare. Sometimes you have to have an appreciation for what a good strikeout can do. You have to look at those long at-bats as contributing to the overall good of the lineup. Power is hard to find and you learn to live with the strikeouts.”

Let's take a deeper dive looking at teams

Is pitches per plate appearance a reflection of a team's success?

I felt this was a good place to start and I was immediately disavowed of the assumption. The Red Sox (97-65) did lead the majors in P/PA, but they were tied with the less-than-terrific Minnesota Twins (66-96). Granted the three teams with the lowest P/PA had horrible records, but I also noticed that both the Cardinals and Tigers were in the bottom five in the majors in P/PA.

2013 Regular Season Pitches Per Plate Appearance
1. Minnesota Twins4.02
2. Boston Red Sox4.02
3. Cleveland Indians3.95
4. Oakland Athletics3.94
5. New York Mets3.91
6. Seattle Mariners3.91
7. Toronto Blue Jays3.89
8. Tampa Bay Rays3.87
9. Pittsburgh Pirates3.86
10. Texas Rangers3.85
11. Chicago Cubs3.85
12. Atlanta Braves3.83
13. Arizona Diamondbacks3.83
14. Houston Astros3.82
15. New York Yankees3.81
16. San Diego Padres3.81
17. Los Angeles Angels3.81
18. Los Angeles Dodgers3.81
19. Baltimore Orioles3.80
20. Cincinnati Reds3.80
21. Washington Nationals3.80
22. Miami Marlins3.79
23. Philadelphia Phillies3.78
24. San Francisco Giants3.77
25. Kansas City Royals3.77
26. St. Louis Cardinals3.76
27. Detroit Tigers3.76
28. Chicago White Sox3.76
29. Colorado Rockies3.72
30. Milwaukee Brewers3.72

Is there an ideal home run to strikeout ratio?

The majors leading home run hitting team, the Baltimore Orioles, hit one homer for every 5.30 strikeout. The Red Sox homered once every 7.34 strikeout. The Braves homered once every 7.64 strikeout. The Tigers homered once every 6.09 strikeout. The Rays homered once every 7.09 strikeout. The Cardinals homered once every 8.88 strikeout.

2013 Regular Season Home Runs and Strikeouts
1. Baltimore Orioles2121,125
2. Seattle Mariners1881,353
3. Oakland Athletics1861,178
4. Toronto Blue Jays1851,123
5. Atlanta Braves1811,384
6. Boston Red Sox1781,308
7. Texas Rangers1761,067
8. Detroit Tigers1761,073
9. Chicago Cubs1721,230
10. Cleveland Indians1711,283
11. Tampa Bay Rays1651,171
12. Los Angeles Angels1641,221
13. Washington Nationals1611,192
14. Pittsburgh Pirates1611,330
15. Colorado Rockies1591,204
16. Milwaukee Brewers1571,183
17. Cincinnati Reds1551,245
18. Minnesota Twins1511,430
19. Houston Astros1481,535
20. Chicago White Sox1481,207
21. San Diego Padres1461,309
22. New York Yankees1441,214
23. Philadelphia Phillies1401,205
24. Los Angeles Dodgers1381,146
25. New York Mets1301,384
26. Arizona Diamondbacks1301,142
27. St. Louis Cardinals1251,110
28. Kansas City Royals1121,048
29. San Francisco Giants1071,078
30. Miami Marlins951,232

Let's look at some individual numbers

Here are the 23 players with at least 140 strikeouts in 2013 with their homer and strikeout totals. I've also included their homer and strikeout percentages as well as their P/PA. I threw batting average in there as measure of consistency.

As I look at this, I do see Napoli building up the pitch count, but I also see a batter who strikes out way too much and doesn't produce enough homers to compensate for it. In this group, Paul Goldschmidt really excels and Chris Davis is steller. Marlon Byrd looks like a better Napoli, but he takes one less pitch per at bat, which comes out to three additional pitches against starters, which to me is worth the sacrifice.

There are numerous others who I like on this list who whiff less than 30% of the time.

2013 Regular HR and Strikeouts
1. Chris Carter (HOU)292124.205.7%36.2%.223
2. Chris Davis (BAL)531993.979.1%29.6%.286
3. Adam Dunn (CWS)341894.296.5%31.1%.219
4. Mike Napoli (BOS)231874.584.6%32.4%.259
5. Pedro Alvarez (PIT)361863.926.5%30.3%.233
6. Jay Bruce (CIN)301853.964.8%26.5%.262
7. Mark Trumbo (LAA)341843.725.5%27.1%.234
8. Dan Uggla (ATL)221714.144.9%31.8%.179
9. Evan Longoria (TB)321624.005.2%23.4%.269
10. Justin Upton (ATL)271614.084.8%25.0%.263
11. Josh Hamilton (LAA)211583.733.6%24.8%.250
12. Alfonso Soriano (NYY)341563.745.9%24.9%.255
13. Mark Reynolds (NYY)211544.224.7%30.6%.220
14. Alejandro De Aza (CWS)171474.062.8%21.8%.264
15. Carlos Gomez (MIL)241463.674.5%24.7%.284
16. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)361454.126.0%20.4%.302
17. Ian Desmond (WSH)201453.693.3%22.1%.280
18. Marlon Byrd (PIT)241443.654.5%24.9%.291
19. Jason Kipnis (CLE)171434.193.0%21.7%.284
20. Chase Headley (SD)131423.962.5%23.7%.250
21. Alex Gordon (KC)201414.003.2%20.1%.265
22. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)241404.145.6%27.8%.249
23. Brandon Moss (OAK)301403.996.7%27.7%.256

Four Top 10 Lists

In closing, I wanted to look at four variables, strikeouts, homers, hits, and walks and what the P/PA was for the leaders in each category.

This report shows you that amongst batters in the top ten in strikeouts, nobody worked the count more than Justin Upton.
2013 Top 10 Strikeout Leaders with P/PA
1. Chris Carter (HOU)2124.87
2. Chris Davis (BAL)1994.87
3. Adam Dunn (CWS)1895.08
4. Mike Napoli (BOS)1875.00
5. Pedro Alvarez (PIT)1864.60
6. Jay Bruce (CIN)1855.03
7. Mark Trumbo (LAA)1844.55
8. Dan Uggla (ATL)1715.02
9. Evan Longoria (TB)1624.85
10. Justin Upton (ATL)1615.10

This report shows you that amongst batters in the top ten in homers, nobody worked the count better than Paul Goldschmidt. Napoli when he homered saw 3.83 pitches.
2013 HR Leaders with P/PA
1. Chris Davis (BAL)533.40
2. Miguel Cabrera (DET)443.18
3. Pedro Alvarez (PIT)362.81
4. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)364.17
5. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)363.06
6. Mark Trumbo (LAA)342.82
7. Alfonso Soriano (NYY)342.74
8. Adam Dunn (CWS)343.79
9. Adam Jones (BAL)332.58
10. Evan Longoria (TB)322.56

This report shows you that amongst batters in the top ten in hits, nobody worked the count more than Mike Trout. Matt Carpenter and Dustin Pedroia both had very productive at bats that led to a hit. Napoli had productive at bats that ended up in a hit seeing 4.11 pitches.
2013 Hits Leaders with P/PA
1. Matt Carpenter (STL)1994.12
2. Adrian Beltre (TEX)1993.67
3. Miguel Cabrera (DET)1933.71
4. Dustin Pedroia (BOS)1934.05
5. Robinson Cano (NYY)1903.63
6. Mike Trout (LAA)1904.21
7. Manny Machado (BAL)1893.53
8. Eric Hosmer (KC)1883.77
9. Daniel Murphy (NYM)1883.63
10. Adam Jones (BAL)1863.54

This report shows you that amongst batters in the top eleven in walks, nobody worked the count more than Dan Uggla and Andrew McCutcheon. Napoli averaged 5.84 pitches in his 73 walks.
Top 11 Leaders in Walks with P/PA
1. Joey Votto (CIN)1355.41
2. Shin-Soo Choo (CIN)1125.63
3. Mike Trout (LAA)1105.50
4. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)995.43
5. Carlos Santana (CLE)935.58
6. Miguel Cabrera (DET)905.34
7. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)825.60
8. Billy Butler (KC)795.06
9. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)785.71
10. Nick Swisher (CLE)775.64
11. Dan Uggla (ATL)775.78

B. Chuck: The Offensive Red Sox Season

With all the talk about the effect that John Farrell's return to the Red Sox would have on the Boston pitching staff, so far it's been highly over-rated.

The Sox are seventh in the league with a team ERA of 3.84. Their starters are fourth in the league with a 3.79 ERA and their bullpen is 11th in the AL with a 3.94 ERA.

The key to the success of the Red Sox this season have been their bats and credit for that certainly needs to go to hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn and his assistant, Victor Rodriguez (and very high marks to GM Ben Cherington who has put together a terrific assortment of "chemists").

Serious Offense

  • The Red Sox lead the majors 363 runs scored.
  • They are tied with the Orioles with 155 doubles, the most in the majors.
  • They are tied with the Rays and Indians with 80 homers, the sixth most in the majors.
  • They are second to the A's, 277 to 273 walks.
  • They are second to the Padres, 61 to 57 steals.
  • They are second to the Cards, 205 to 184 hits with runners in scoring position.
  • They are tied for second in the AL with the A's with bases loaded hits, but lead the majors with 66 bases loaded RBI.
  • The Sox are tied with the Tigers for the league lead with a .285 June batting average.
  • They lead the AL 156 June hits, 13 more than the A's who are in second place.
  • They lead the AL with 23 June homers
  • They lead the AL with 88 RBI, 28 more than the Jays who are second with 60 ribbies.

The Individual Plusses

One of the other keys to the Red Sox offensive success is the variety of players who have been hot at different times throughout the season.


  • For example, while the Sox and the Phillies only have four homers each from the number three slot in the batting order, the fewest in baseball, the Sox have Dustin Pedroia who's hitting .319, the best of any #3 in the AL not named Miguel Cabrera.
  • And they have David Ortiz who has driven home 14 runs in June, the most in the AL, despite a .220 batting average.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, in his walk year, has been running. He's tied with Everth Cabrera for the MLB lead with 31 steals and tied with Mike Trout for the AL lead in triples with six.
  • Mike Napoli has been an RBI machine providing clutch hits, particularly in the early going.
  • Don't forget the great fielding Jose Iglesias who has a 17-game hitting streak, the longest for any rookie this season, and is hitting .438 in 99 PA this season.
  • Daniel Nava is one of the great "who's thats?" of this season, but is deserving of some AL All-Star write-in votes. Nava is hitting .288 on the season and his 44 RBI are third on the team to Ortiz' and Napoli's 49, but 24 of the RBI have come from the 7th inning on and Nava leads the majors in that category. His 38 RBI as an outfielder puts him eight among all MLB outfielders. And, his .378 OBP ranks 10th among all outfielders (he has a .383 OBP overall).
  • Mike Carp has hit eight homers in 105 AB and is slugging .686 to go with his .324 BA.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .271 overall and improving behind the plate and the switch-hitter is hitting .303 as a lefty.


So, through an assortment of pieces the Red Sox have put together three strong first months of the season.

But is that enough to get them through the year?

Tomorrow, I look at the minuses of the Boston ball club, starting with the starting pitching.


The Red Sox Regression

Take a look at the AL East standings on April 19 and the Red Sox results since.

On April 19:

April 19 - May 15, 2013:

Nobody could have expected the Sox to have maintained their torrid start, so a regression was expected and occurred.

Let's examine some reasons for the Sox return to Earth 

  • The Red Sox team ERA through April 19 was 2.69; since, 4.82.
  • Starters ERA through April 19 was 2.23; since, 4.67.
  • Relievers ERA through April 19 was 3.43; since, 5.16. 

Take a look at some individual differences

The Sox are heavily reliant upon their top three starters in their rotation and they have regressed:

  • Up to April 19, Clay Buchholz had a 0.41 ERA, after, a still very good, 2.45 
  • Up to April 19, Jon Lester had a 1.73 ERA, after a fair, 3.71 
  • Up to April 19, Ryan Dempster had a 2.65 ERA, after, a very shaky, 4.35

The Bullpen

Their bullpen has been hit with a season-ending injury to Joel Hanrahan and a DL-inducing injury to Andrew Bailey.


  • Up to April 19, Junichi Tazawa had a 1.12 ERA, after, a not very good, 5.40 
  • Up to April 19, Koji Uehara had a 0.00 ERA, after, a not very good, 4.50

Let's move to the offense, which has improved

  • Up to April 19, the team was hitting .257, with an OBP of .333, and slugging .411. 
  • Since April 19, the team is hitting .270, with an OBP of .345, and slugging .459.

The individual batting averages have been a mixed bag before and after April 19

So, where's the rub?

  • Up to April 19, the team was hitting .305 with runners in scoring position.
  • Since April 19, the team is hitting .255 w/RISP.

  • With runners in scoring position both Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava have been consistently good with numbers over .300 before and after April 19. 
  •  Since April 19, Stephen Drew has gone from .000 to .368 w/RISP and Jonny Gomes has gone from .000 to .286. 
  •  But it has hurt that the red-hot Mike Napoli has dropped from .333 to .258 since April 19. 
  • Jacoby Ellsbury has gone from .400 to .118 since April 19. 
  • And Saltalamacchia and Middlebrooks have both been ineffective all season long with runners in scoring position.

Perhaps you are wondering why I chose April 19th as my cutoff date

You see, on April 20 David Ortiz made his season's debut.

And while you certainly can't complain about Big Papi's .329 average with five homers and 20 RBI or his .321 average w/RISP, you do have to wonder if the team let down after his return or it was simply an expected regression to the mean.

We'll learn a ot more about this team over the next 25 games.