Free Agent Target: Mike Napoli
It definitely was a dull and unproductive season for the Marlins when it came to winning. The Marlins only won a total of 71 games this past year and were 19 games behind the New York Mets in first place.
One of the many downfalls was the offense. The Marlins hit .260 together as a team, which was not bad at all, ranking 4th in the NL. Their power definitely lacked as they were second to last in home runs and RBI’s in the NL, only topping the Atlanta Braves. The contact was there but they missed that power. The power numbers dropping were not a surprise, with Giancarlo Stanton spending most of his time on the disabled list.
The only reason why the team was not in last mostly had to do with the emergence of Justin Bour. The left handed hitting first baseman finished with 23 home runs and 73 runs batted in playing 128 games. Bour was also a very clutch hitter as 13 of his 23 home runs tied the game or gave the Marlins the lead. Bour was named the NL rookie of the month for September and he became the first player in club history with a home run in the first inning for three straight games. Overall a very impressive season for Bour.
Aug 12, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour (48) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sport
On the other hand, Bour did have some struggles. Bour was atrocious against left handed pitching. He posted a .221 batting average, while hitting no home runs. His slugging percentage was a vast difference between different arm throwers on the mound. Against righties, Bour exhibited a .519 slugging and a .327 OBP. Against lefties, he was not the same player, hitting a .279 slugging and a .293 OBP. Obviously, Justin Bour was not comfortable against lefties last season, and honestly not much power lefty hitters are.
The best way to avoid Bour having to hit against all these lefties is finding a platoon partner to play first base when a southpaw is on the mound. Under much consideration, one of the best options out there is Mike Napoli.
Last season, Napoli spent time with both the Boston Redsox where he struggled in 98 games. However, once he returned to Texas for the last 35 games, Napoli improved to a .295 average. That was 88 points better than what he hit with the Redsox. Napoli has always been know for the power he brings to the plate. With the Angels and Rangers from 2009-2013, Napoli hit 20 or more home runs in those seasons, having his best year in 2011 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI’s.
Napoli of course is human and does have some flaws. Due to Napoli’s power stroke, he can strike out quite a bit. This past season he stroke out 118 times in 133 games. This being a main reason why his WAR has dropped from a 4.1 in 2013 to a 0.5 in 2015. On a good note, well more than half of those strikeouts were against right handed pitching. Napoli has always been viewed as a killer to left handed pitching. Napoli doubled his amount of home runs against righties when a lefty was on the mound. Here is a more in depth look at his splits from last year.
Mike Napoli would be a great fit in the Marlins lineup. Platooning with Justin Bour at first would take away weaknesses from both players and give the fish some veteran power protection behind Giancarlo Stanton. A Napoli signing will also unquestionably improve the bench as Napoli will not be starting every game. Napoli also has some postseason experience and that is somewhere the Marlins are aiming to be in 2016.
The Marlins are in need of a platoon partner for Bour at first base, and Mike Napoli is the right guy to fill that job.