Red Sox offseason primer: First base

Mike Napoli hopes to bounce back strong and healthy after struggling through an injury-riddled 2014. Duane Burleson/Getty Images

BOSTON -- Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli's season was sidetracked by a string of injuries that limited him to 119 games (109 at 1B) in 2014, which caused a commensurate drop in his run production for the club.

But with a year left on his deal, Napoli remains a key component of Sox plans going forward.

Here is Part 4 of our position-by-position breakdown, first base:

Red Sox first basemen performance this season (major league rankings):

  • Batting average: .221, 25th

  • On-base percentage: .337, 13th

  • Slugging percentage: .354, 27th

  • Home runs: 16, 24th

  • Extra-base hits: 45, 25th

  • At-bats per HR: 36.7, 8th

  • Offensive WAR: 1.7, 16th

  • Wins Above Replacement: 2.9, 11th

  • Errors: 10, 7th

  • Total Zone Runs Above Average: 9, 1st

First basemen used, offensive stats: Mike Napoli 109 G, .251/.376/.407/.784 14 HRs, 48 RBIs; Allen Craig 17, .086/.185/.138/.323, 1, 2; Mike Carp 16, .209/.375/.349/.724 0, 5; Daniel Nava 9, .125/.250/.208/.458 0, 1; Brock Holt 8, .324/.342/.432/.775 0, 4; David Ortiz 5, .158/.227/.316/.543 1, 5; Ryan Lavarnway, 5, .000/.000/.000/.000, 0, 0; Kelly Johnson, 4, .133/.133/.133/.267, 0, 0; Will Middlebrooks 1, .000/.000/.000/.000, 0, 0; Jonathan Herrera 1, .000/.000/.000/.000 0,0

Best performance: Napoli called this his toughest year physically, coping with a series of injuries, the most serious of which was a dislocated finger he sustained in April, but there were also knee, back and toe issues that plagued him throughout the season. He batted just .186 in May, and did the same over the last 32 games of the season before shutting it down with 10 games to go. Even so, he played above-average defense and posted a .784 OPS in games in which he played first base. Napoli drove in only 55 runs in 2014 after knocking in 92 the season before, but that had much to do with opportunity: He drove in 34 percent of the runners who were in scoring position when he came to the plate in 2014, as opposed to 37 percent in 2013.

Biggest disappointment: Craig, acquired from St. Louis in a trading deadline deal with pitcher Joe Kelly for John Lackey, was awful in his time with the Sox, bearing no resemblance to the player who was a big part of Cardinals playoff teams. Craig and the Sox both insist that his foot injury last fall was not responsible for his decline in 2014, but there remains great uncertainty how he fits going forward.

Biggest surprise: Who knew that Holt could play first base capably, one of seven positions the utility man handled with competence.

Outlook for 2015: Napoli has one year left on a contract that will pay him $16 million next season, and said he fully expects to return next season. "I'm part of the plan, man," he said. "There hasn't been any indication or talks of not being [back]. I'm confident." Manager John Farrell said Napoli will not require surgery for any of his ailments, so he should be fully healthy by spring training. He remains a key presence in the Sox clubhouse.

Potential free-agent targets: Not applicable. This is not a position the Sox will be looking to sign a free agent.

Potential trade targets: Not applicable. The Sox are not looking for an upgrade here, though they could perhaps add a backup left-handed bat.

Prospects in the system: Travis Shaw

Scout's take: The Sox are not going to be making any changes here, not with the power Napoli still brings to the table, and not when they still owe him $16 million. They just need him to be healthy again.