One key reason is why Cleveland Indians 1B/DH Mike Napoli has been struggling, but what is it?
After an encouraging series opener win in Boston over the Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians offense scuffled and the pitching quite simply imploded. We knew the bullpen was in trouble, which has caused some grumbling about the Indians being active in the relief pitching market.
But the offense, which was riding high after the Cincinnati Reds series, fell flat in big moments and was never able to take advantage of one of the best hitters parks in baseball. Leading that charge downward for the Indians offense has been former Red Sox slugger Mike Napoli.
After a rough April, Napoli had seen his batting average climb up to as high as .252 on May 17th and had hovered in the .240 range for most of May. The strikeout rates were still an issue, but he had been hitting for some power, with four homers in April and three so far in May.
It is not all bad considering Napoli hit .205 in April and has thus far hit .250 in May. He is also hitting .253 with runners on and an even better .304 with runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, That’s where most of the good news ends.
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The strikeout rates just kept climbing. In fact, Napoli closed out the Red Sox series with nine strike outs in 13 at bats. Even including the Reds series, Napoli has 13 K’s in his last 26 at-bats. That is only one fewer strikeout than hit he has all through May! On the year, Napoli has a total of 62 strikeouts, putting him on pace for a whopping 264 over the course of a 162 game season.
That is only one fewer strikeout than hit he has all through May! On the year, Napoli has a total of 62 strikeouts, putting him on pace for a whopping 264 over the course of a 162 game season.
The Cleveland Indians slugger has struggled mightily against right-handed pitching, slashing only .217/.284 /.443 with 47 strikeouts in 106 at-bats. The numbers are worse on the road, where his line is a putrid .175 /.214 /.338 with 38 strikeouts in 80 at-bats compared to .288 /.382 /.545 with 21 strikeouts at home in only 66 at bats.
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This all leads to a Batting Average on Balls in Play of .325, showing that Napoli is effective when he actually makes contact. The near 100 point swing between his BABIP compared to his .226 overall average proves that the strikeouts are the main culprit for Napoli’s woes.
I will leave one last stat out there for Cleveland Indians fans to show just how important Napoli is to the team’s overall success. In Tribe losses, Napoli is only hitting .156 /.194 /.391. In the team’s 22 wins those numbers climb to .280 /.366 /.463.
The Cleveland Indians need Napoli to get back on track in a hurry to take advantage of a weaker AL Central and in turn keeping up their momentum going sans Michael Brantley. A lot fewer swings and misses might be a place to start.