2013 Red Sox Projections: Mike Napoli

The winter meetings are certainly here and a few of the free agents have already found new homes. The Red Sox made one of the bigger winter meeting moves thus far, signing C/1B Mike Napoli to a three-year deal. How does going from Texas to Boston affect Napoli's fantasy value?

Mike Napoli – C/1B – BOS
2013 Age: 31 – Splits: Slight vs RHP
2013 Projection: 377 AB, .255/.364/.520, 26 HR, 72 RBI, 59 R, 2 SB
Notes: Nap came back down to earth to basically be the player he was before his remarkable 2012 campaign. Now in Boston, and with a huge wall in left to try and knock down, expect more of the same: power and OBP, but risk in AVG and health.
 
Napoli pulled about 52-percent of his balls in play last year and 59-percent of those we hit on the ground. However, when he did get a ball in the air to left field it went for a home run 52.2-percent of the time (data from FanGraphs). Looking at his hit chart from Katron.org, we see Napoli's balls in play from home games in 2012 (at Rangers Ballpark) over Fenway's dimensions.
 
 
You can see that there were several instances (orange and light blue dots) in which Napoli might have seen an out or double turn into a home run to left and center. However, you'll also notice three home runs (dark blue) that might not have gone into the stands at Fenway. While these charts are fun to look at, they really don't give us much evidence that a player will or will not perform the same going forward. What we do know is that when Napoli hits the ball in the air to left, there is over a 45-to-50-percent chance that it will become a home run (based on his average three-year HR/FB to LF). That number might increase even more playing home games in Fenway.
 
Unless the Red Sox sign an everyday first baseman, chances are that Napoli sees plenty of time there, ideally keeping him fresh and healthy over the course of the summer. There's upside for Napoli to get upwards of 450 at-bats — and the home runs that would come along with them — but no way of simply counting on it to happen.
 
Given that Napoli is coming off of a down season in terms of AVG and RBI, and given that he still continued to hit home runs nontheless, he should be a solid value on draft day.
 
Upside: .290/.390 with 30+ HRs
Downside: .220/.330 with ~20 HRs