Has the New Strike Zone Stuck a Fork in Mike Napoli?

Heading into the 2015 season, expectations for Mike Napoli were very high. His offseason Bimaxillary Advancement surgery to help alleviate his sleep apnea gave Boston Red Sox fans hope that a well-rested Mike Napoli would have an excellent year. Unfortunately, the Boston Red Sox and their fans did not foresee that the increasing size of the strike zone would impact Mike Napoli more than they average MLB hitter, which has caused him to mess with his mechanics and led to a severe downturn in his offensive production.

Coming into the 2015 season, Ian York used his unique visual analysis to show that the strike zone has been gradually increasing since MLB introduced PITCHf/x as a tool to grade umpire performance.  In early June, Ian concluded that the 2015 strike zone has continued to expand especially outside and low in the zone to right handed batters. This article was in response to quotes by Mike Napoli that the 2015 strike zone was larger than it was previous seasons.

As explained by Brandon Magee, the Red Sox early season woes were largely caused by the under performance of their veteran hitters.

In mid-June, Rick Rowand analyzed Napoli’s underlying statistics and concluded that an offensive rebound was incredibly unlikely.

Ian York then showed us that Mike Napoli has been disproportionately affected relative to the average MLB player by the new expanded strike zone. He also concluded that Mike Napoli’s strength of grinding out at-bats may be less beneficial to his team in today’s environment because of the strength of middle relievers around the league.

Mike Richmond has recently provided Boston Red Sox fans a glimmer of hope that statistically it is possible that Mike Napoli’s low batting average is just a product of bad luck.

Unfortunately, Damian Dydyn’s recent analysis of Mike Napoli’s hitting mechanics shows that he is way off balance during his swing. It appears that the new strike zone has caused Mike Napoli’s decreased confidence and magnified his slower bat speed; which in turn may have ended his ability to effectively and consistently hit MLB pitching.

Has the new strike zone stuck a fork in Mike Napoli? We do know that many in Red Sox Nation are looking forward to the Sam Travis era.

Lou Brown has previously applied his cat herding skills to accumulate Ian York‘s series about the Boston Red Sox pitching rotation’s repertoires.

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