After earning the infamous Golden Sombrero Tuesday night, Mike Napoli officially earned himself a spot on the bench. The first baseman has been struggling this season. And I don’t mean he has streaks where he’s good then gets into slumps. No, Napoli has played one good week of big league ball this year. And as you may have already guessed, that week was the week he hit five home runs and earned the American player of the Week honors.
Since then, Napoli has gone back to struggling at the plate. He is batting an abysmal .198/.293/.379 posting a wRC+ of 84. The .198 ranks 161st out of 164 batters whom qualify for the batting title and is the worst in the game among first baseman. His .676 OPS ranks 132nd out of the 164 qualified batters, the second worst among first baseman behind the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman.
A core piece in the 2013 championship run, Napoli has been known throughout his career for his power and patience at the plate. Napoli has been given a fair shot to try to get back to the level of production everyone is used to seeing from him. But, he’s played in sixty-five of the seventy-three games and Napoli continues to give the Red Sox a reason to not play him. Set to make $16,000,000 this year, The Red Sox don’t want to just release Napoli. They have a shot at trading him to a postseason contender in need of a power bat if they pay the majority of the rest of his contract.
Allen Craig was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket after having a slow start to his career in Boston. Once the most feared hitter in the National League, Craig started the season hitting .135/.237/.192 with a wRC+ of 22. His .430 OPS was awful and reflects on just how bad he was at the plate.
Since getting optioned, the 2013 All-Star is hitting .286/.422/.403 with an .825 OPS in thirty-three games in Pawtucket. He has 3 home runs and 11 walks. It’s time for Craig to be called back up to the big leagues. Napoli’s lack of production is only hurting the team while his stock on the trade market drops. It’s not too late for the Red Sox to get back in this thing, and if Craig can continue to produce it will be a huge gain for Boston.