Now playing under National League rules, Red Sox manager John Farrell has opted to start David Ortiz at first base over Mike Napoli, at least in Game 3 of the World Series. While Napoli has hit well for the Red Sox throughout the post-season, Ortiz has out-done him, homering in the first two games against the Cardinals, to boot. Ortiz certainly lacks the defensive skill set to be reliable at first base, but the hope is that he’ll outhit his deficiencies with the glove.
Farrell did express consternation with the correct way to utilize Napoli off the bench:
“We’ve got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch-hitter … to preserve that defensive side of it.” – Farrell on Napoli.
— MLB (@MLB) October 26, 2013
Though the thought of Napoli as a “defensive” replacement seems odd, advanced defensive statistics graded him well:
Mike Napoli ranked first among major league first baseman in UZR, fourth in DRS (defensive runs saved) this season.
— Katie Morrison (@KatieMo61) October 25, 2013
Additionally, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Napoli took grounders at third base, creating speculation that Farrell is getting creative with ways to get both bats in the lineup.
And people think the DH is great. The endless lineup strategy is exhilarating!