Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/27/12
The Red Sox might be doing their homework in case their reported deal with Mike Napoli falls through. It doesn’t mean they’re going to get the same grade. Reports are starting to surface that the Sox are talking with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, just in case they’re unable to finalize the deal with Napoli that was first reported more than three weeks ago. But while LaRoche had the better season offensively in 2012, and is a Gold Glove caliber first baseman with far more experience than Napoli at the position, Napoli still remains the better option. Despite LaRoche’s spike in production with the Nationals last season — which saw him finish sixth in NL MVP voting — and the step backward Napoli took following a breakout 2011 campaign, Napoli features the better overall track record offensively. The former Rangers slugger has a better career on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, as well as more wins above replacement (WAR). Plus, as we’ve already seen, Napoli’s swing is tailor-made for Fenway Park — something LaRoche, a lefty, can’t quite claim. In fact, while the sample sizes are small, we’ve already seen that Napoli has produced far better at the friendly confines of Fenway. Consider the following stat lines. Napoli: 19 games (73 plate appearances), seven home runs, 17 RBIs, .306 average, .397 on-base percentage, .710 slugging percentage, 1.107 OPS LaRoche: 15 games (57 plate appearances), two home runs, five RBIs, .148 average, .193 on-base percentage, .296 slugger percentage, .489 OPS Again, the sample sizes are tiny, so we shouldn’t put too much stock in those numbers, but Napoli even passes the always popular eye test. He’s a right-handed power bat, which is something the Red Sox have lacked since Manny Ramirez and the season and a half of Jason Bay. That isn’t to say Napoli is going to put up Manny-like numbers, but he should see a boost in production while playing his home games at Fenway. Napoli’s career flyball percentage (based on batted balls) sits at 44.5 percent, and his home run-to-flyball ratio at 20.3 percent. Both are higher than LaRoche’s career marks, which are 41.3 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively. Such stats don’t typically reveal much, but it’s easy to see why the Red Sox were quick to pursue Napoli, whose right-handed, uppercut stroke could play well with a short porch in left. But throw out the stats for a minute. And also throw out the apparent injury concerns, which are clearly raising a red flag for the Red Sox when it comes to Napoli, who is actually two years younger than LaRoche. The biggest reason that LaRoche isn’t exactly a picture perfect fit for the Red Sox is because of the commitment signing him would entail. Because the Nationals made LaRoche a qualifying offer, the Red Sox would have to surrender a second-round draft pick as compensation to sign the 33-year-old free agent. (It would have been a first round pick had the Sox not had one of the 10 worst records in baseball in 2012.) In addition, Boston would also lose the money assigned to the pick in its draft pool, showing that there’s a financial burden that exists beyond just the contract that LaRoche is seeking. So while it’s easy to say, “Well, if we don’t end up landing Napoli, we’ll just go ahead with LaRoche,” it isn’t exactly that simple. Napoli, unlike LaRoche, wasn’t made a qualifying offer by the Rangers, so the Red Sox wouldn’t have to part ways with a draft pick or the money assigned to the pick. The Red Sox have been busy inking free agents this offseason, but none thus far have required Boston to surrender compensatory draft picks. And with Ben Cherington‘s emphasis on getting back to player development, it’s easy to see why the Red Sox would be reluctant to go after players who require them to make that sacrifice. If the Red Sox ultimately decide Napoli isn’t in their plans going forward because of the reported injury concerns, they might be better off turning to someone like Lance Berkman, who wasn’t extended a qualifying offer by the Cardinals. And when you consider that drop-off, it becomes clear why Boston coveted Napoli so much in the first place. Mike Napoli photo (left) via Facebook/Mike Napoli Adam LaRoche photo (right) via Flickr/Keith Allison
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Auburn legend Bo Jackson using Heisman vote for Alabama star

Gronk: Tom Brady doesn't age, seems like he's in his 20s

Cam Newton says Greg Hardy was a 'great teammate'

Ohio State plans to end Mirror Lake jump tradition after death

WATCH: Jason Kidd ejected for swiping ball out of ref's hands

Brad Stevens: Celtics had 'real conversations' after loss to Hawks


Les Miles unsure about his future at LSU

Saban will not rule out Kenyan Drake for Iron Bowl

Andre Drummond responds to Khris Middleton saying he doesn’t like contact

Lacking Jazz: Why Utah’s offense has struggled this season

Magic to bench Victor Oladipo, start Channing Frye

10 unheralded NFL players set to make a major impact in Week 12

LeBron James, James Jones lead players-only meeting after loss

Brady: Few have more respect for Peyton Manning than me

WATCH: Marcus Foligno flips Carter Hutton

Blaine Gabbert was only person at his press conference

Report: Alabama DC Kirby Smart a front-runner for South Carolina job

Kristaps Porzingis really wants to meet Turtle from ‘Entourage’

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

WATCH: Ref injures Yakupov's leg by pulling him down

Ryan Fitzpatrick shaves beard to ‘switch up the mojo’

Bedlam is bigger than ever, but which team will be better than ever?

5 outrageous predictions for Week 12 of the NFL season

How the Detroit Lions became the face of football on Thanksgiving Day

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 college football season

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 CFB season

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

Blue Jays fans create website in effort to keep David Price

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker