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Nuggetpalooza: Stat nuggets on newest Red Sox Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino

12.07.12 at 9:05 am ET

Mike Napoli, a powerful right-handed catcher/first baseman who hit .227 with 24 home runs and an OPS of .812 for the Rangers in 2012, likely will be penciled in as the main guy at first for the Red Sox in 2013. Here are a few statistics that I found interesting:

* – Red Sox-killer: Among players with at least 100 career plate appearances against the Red Sox, Napoli’s 1.075 OPS against Boston ranks fifth all-time:

1.162 – Nelson Cruz (2007-2012)
1.124 – Babe Ruth (1921-1934)
1.099 – Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)
1.084 – Frank Robinson (1966-1976)
1.075 – Mike Napoli (2006-2012)

Napoli’s at-bats per home run (8.33) and at-bats per RBI (3.79) ranks first and second, respectively, all-time against the Red Sox (same minimum). The only player with a lower RBI rate is Gehrig (3.66).

* – Vs. righties: Despite his “off-year” in 2012 (.227 overall average), Napoli still managed an OPS of .861 in 285 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, the 9th highest OPS in the AL against righties by a right-handed batter (min. 200 such PA):

1.027 – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
.999 – Mike Trout, Angels
.985 – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
.942 – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
.892 – Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
.877 – Josh Willingham, Twins
.864 – Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
.861 – Mike Napoli, Rangers

* – When the leaves turn brown: Napoli’s career OPS in September is 1.001 and he has 15 home runs and 35 RBI in 37 September/October games over the last two seasons. Over that two-year span, Napoli’s at-bats per home run rate (8.01) and at-bats per RBI (3.46) both rank as the lowest/best September/October rates in the majors (min. 75 such PA):

AB per HR

8.01 – Mike Napoli
9.09 – Adrian Beltre
11.01 – Adam LaRoche

AB per RBI

3.46 – Mike Napoli
3.61 – Shelley Duncan
3.85 – Victor Martinez

* – Burned bridges: Napoli has absolutely mashed against his former team, the Angels. In 134 plate appearances against them, he’s hit .396 with 12 home runs, an on-base percentage of .500, and a 1.329 OPS. That’s not only the highest career OPS by any Angels’ opponent ever, but it’s the 4th highest by an opponent of any single team ever (min. 125 plate appearances against team):

1.575 – Jim Thome vs. Cardinals
1.461 – Mark McGwire vs. Padres
1.346 – Barry Bonds vs. Brewers
1.329 – Mike Napoli vs. Angels
1.305 – Manny Ramirez vs. Diamondbacks

* – Tough early in at-bats: When putting the first or second pitch of an at-bat in play, Napoli has hit .389 (56-for-144) with a 1.205 OPS over the last two seasons, the fourth highest such OPS in the majors in that span (min. 140 such PA):

1.323 – Todd Frazier
1.318 – Matt Kemp
1.214 – Ryan Howard
1.205 – Mike Napoli

* – Feasting on homer-prone hurlers: Last year, 30 different pitchers (including now-former Red Sox’ Daisuke Matsuzaka) faced 200 or more batters and allowed 1.5 home runs per nine innings or higher. Napoli faced 13 of those pitchers and in just 29 such at-bats, clubbed six home runs and put up a .931 slugging percentage, the highest in the majors against that group of pitchers (min. 25 such AB):

.931 – Mike Napoli, Rangers
.902 – Josh Hamilton, Rangers
.894 – Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
.892 – Trevor Plouffe, Twins
.867 – Jonny Gomes, Athletics

Shane Victorino, the “Flying Hawaiian,” will play an integral role as a 32-year old outfielder for the Red Sox in 2013. Here are a few things that I noticed from his statistical resume:

* – Victorino is the all-time leader in WAR (thanks, Baseball-Reference) among the 37 major leaguers who hailed from the state of Hawaii:

23.1 – Shane Victorino
10.3 – Kurt Suzuki
3.9 – Mike Lum
3.5 – Lenn Sakata

* – 90/200 club: Victorino is one of three active players with at least 90 home runs and 200 stolen bases despite fewer than 10 years in the league. The others are the BravesB.J. Upton (8 years) and the Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez (8 years).

* – Vs. lefties: The switch-hitting Victorino is stronger from the right side, putting up a career .881 OPS against lefties compared to .732 (and never higher than .787) against right-handed pitchers. In fact, over the past three seasons combined, Victorino’s average (.318), on-base percentage (.396), slugging percentage (.550), and OPS (.946) against left-handed pitchers are all ranked in the top 25 in the majors.

* – Not setting the table: Victorino has been surprisingly ineffective when leading off innings, putting up sub-.300 OBP’s in two of his last three seasons in those spots. From 2010-2012, his .305 on-base percentage when leading off innings ranked 234th in the majors in that span (min. 150 innings led off). His overall OBP in that span: .334.

* – RBI’s not his forte: Of the 136 hitters who came to bat with at least 300 runners on base over the course of last season, only six drove in a lower percentage of them than Victorino’s 11.1 percent (44-of-395):

9.4 percent – Jeff Francouer, Royals
9.9 percent – Justin Smoak, Mariners
10.4 percent – Danny Espinosa, Nationals
10.8 percent – Rickie Weeks, Brewers
11.0 percent – Russell Martin, Yankees
11.1 percent – Shane Victorino, Phillies/Dodgers

Note this: With two outs, Victorino drove in 17-of-171 runners (9.9 percent), which ranked in the bottom half among major league hitters but ahead of hitters like Alex Rodriguez (6-of-117, 5.1 percent), MIKE NAPOLI (8-of-103, 7.8 percent), Bryce Harper (12-of-128, 9.4 percent), and Mark Teixeira (13-of-135, 9.6 percent).

* – Vs. closers: Victorino had 45 plate appearances against closers last season (i.e. pitchers with 10 or more saves), the most such plate appearances by any batter in the majors (Albert Pujols had 44 and Hanley Ramirez had 43). In those chances, Victorino hit just .190 with a puny .465 OPS. The average line against closers last season was .211/.284/.328/.612.

* – Clutch terror: Let’s define a hyper-clutch situation as seventh inning or later, two outs, runners in scoring position, and the batter’s team is tied or trailing by one or two runs. Well, over the last five seasons, Victorino has hit .310 with a .907 OPS in 47 such plate appearances and his average of 0.43 RBI per plate appearance in those situations ranks 5th in the majors in that span (min. 35 such PA):

0.57 – Jason Kubel (13-for-32, .406, 4 HR, 24 RBIs)
0.50 – Miguel Cabrera (14-for-35, .400, 4 HR, 24 RBIs)
0.47 – Robinson Cano (10-for-29, .345, 2 HR, 18 RBIs)
0.47 – Carlos Lee (12-for-42, .286, 5 HR, 25 RBIs)
0.43 – Shane Victorino (13-for-42, .310, 2 HR, 20 RBIs)

MLB note: Over that same five-year span, Derek Jeter has gone 2-for-34 (.059, both singles) in such situations, the lowest average in the league (same minimum).

* – Many hits but short hit streak: I noticed that Victorino’s career-long hit streak is “just” 16 games despite his 1,060 hits, so I wondered if any players had more hits in that span (since 2003, when Victorino broke in) and a career-long streak shorter than 16 games. I found three players with over 1,000 hits in that span who have never had a streak of more than 12 games. At some point this offseason, the Red Sox have been rumored to have been “in” on all three:

Adam Dunn – 1,225 hits, 12-game hitting streak
Adam LaRoche – 1,114 hits, 11-game hitting streak
Nick Swisher – 1,085 hits, 11-game hitting streak

Stay tuned for my “Red Sox Reviews,” beginning in January!

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