But that could change quickly. Middlebrooks showed signs that he might be ready to start hitting again with a double in the left-field corner that started the key rally in a 6-5 win in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
While Red Sox fans have been clamoring for top prospect Xander Bogaerts to get a start, manager John Farrell has stuck with Middlebrooks, who has started all six postseason games.
"It's meant a lot to me," Middlebrooks said. "It's been, obviously, a pretty down year for me. For him to stick with me, especially in this part of the season, it's really important to get wins, and it's meant a lot to me."
Napoli had a better regular season than Middlebrooks and carried the team in stretches. But his bat has been quiet this October. The right-handed-hitting slugger is 2-for-17 with just one RBI.
After sitting against Max Scherzer in Game 2, Napoli will return to the lineup for Game 3 (Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on FOX) against Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
"I feel confident every time I go up there I'm going to do something," Napoli said. "They're hitting their spots. They've got good stuff. I've felt fine. I go up there, I'm confident every time. It's not like I'm searching for anything. My BP has been good and my cage work. Yeah, I'm confident every time I go up there."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.