It’s hard to imagine that Mike Napoli was just learning how to play first base full time a little more than a year ago.
In the top of the second inning Wednesday night against the Reds, with Ryan Ludwick on first base and one out, Roger Bernadina hit a hard grounder down the first base line. Napoli, without breaking a sweat, calmly snared the ball backhand, touched first base, and threw to Jonathan Herrera at second base, who tagged Ludwick out to end the inning.
It was a highlight-reel double play turned by Napoli, but he made it seem ordinary.
In Napoli’s seven major league seasons before coming to Boston, he made just 133 appearances at first base, but he signed with the Red Sox knowing that they wanted him to play first full time.
That decision has paid dividends for both sides, as the Red Sox gained an excellent defensive player to man first base, while Napoli finished 2013 just one game short of tying his career-high in games played.
Of all qualifying players in 2013, Napoli committed just six errors in 131 games at first base, tying him for ninth in MLB, while his DWAR was second only to the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo for qualifying first basemen.
Check out the impressive play from Napoli in the video from MLB.com here.