I have long maintained that Mike Napoli, if he played every game against the Sox, would be the greatest hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. Obviously, last night’s game did little to dissuade me of that projection.
But now I’ve found some numbers to back me up on this:
Beckett settled and retired the next 12 hitters he faced, allowing him to log seven effective innings. But after he departed, Napoli broke the game open in the eighth inning, smashing a bases-loaded, two-run double to left-center against reliever Franklin Morales to put the Rangers ahead, 6-2. In 35 career regular season games against the Red Sox, Napoli has made an impact like few others. He is hitting .302/.383/.715/1.098 against the Sox with 14 homers and 31 RBI. Since 1957, Napoli’s slugging percentage against the Sox is the second highest of any player with at least 100 plate appearances against Boston.
1.098 OPS would put him third all-time, behind only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams but ahead of Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds and Pujols. So, he’d only be the third-best hitter ever. I stand corrected.