Nelson Cruz or Mike Napoli: Who Will Have a Bigger Offensive Year in 2012?

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIFebruary 6, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27: Nelson Cruz #17 (R) of the Texas Rangers celebrates with Mike Napoli #25 after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning during Game Six of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers have a problem—a problem so big that roughly 25 other ballclubs wish they could share the same problem.

That problem?  They are insanely deep.  It is a good problem to have.

Looking at their expected starting lineup for 2012, it is a scary one to say the least.  When your catcher is capable of belting out 30 home runs with a 1.046 OPS, you're going to be the envy of many teams.

2011 saw the Rangers do what they do best: win.  Is there any reason to believe they won't continue to do so in 2012?

I think not.

With that in mind, it is fun to take a look at this powerhouse and examine two players that have been instrumental in their team's success.  No, not Ian Kinsler or Josh Hamilton.  I'm talking Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz.

In my personal opinion, Napoli is the premier catcher in the American League.  The man is a beast offensively, is solid defensively, can fill in at first base or DH if need be and he hits for power.  Sure, you can make the argument that he's only done so once in his career, coming for the Rangers.  However, historically, he has shown flashes of his capability.

His power numbers (and average for that matter) have been increasing as he gets more playing time in the big leagues.  While with the Los Angeles Angels, he only played in more that 100 games in 2009 and 2010.  While his batting average dipped in 2010, his power numbers increased.  He managed 26 home runs and 24 doubles while driving in 68 runs.  Not a bad showing for a catcher by any means.

Then, when he came to Texas, he proved himself to be a premier backstop, posting career highs in batting average, home runs, RBI, OBP and OPS.  It is hard to see him not replicating those stats with this lineup in the future.

Nelson Cruz, on the other hand, has been a monster for the Rangers since arriving in 2006.  He consistently hits in the .270 arena and is expected to go yard 30 or more times per season.  In 2011, Cruz hit a career-high 87 RBI and finished with a personal second best in home runs (29) as a quality right fielder for the Rangers.

Once again, Texas has a player in Cruz that most other teams would love to have—a consistent, power-hitting, solid defensive right fielder to help bolster their lineup.

With spring training just around the corner, it makes for good fodder for thought: Who will continue their progress more in 2012, Napoli or Cruz?