Texas Rangers: Mike Napoli's Power Surge Leads to More Playing Time

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIJuly 15, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch on March 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Mike Napoli returned from the disabled list because of an oblique strain on July 4th, and it is no coincidence that the Texas Rangers have rolled through opponents with an eight game winning streak in which he has hit .363 with three home runs.

In only 187 plate appearances this season, Napoli has posted a .245/.353/.553 line with 13 home runs and he has earned additional playing time as Mitch Moreland continues to struggle.

Napoli's average is bound to improve as he gets more at-bats in the second half of the season. His .241 BABIP is below his career mark of .288, and should continue to improve as weeks roll on, but his power numbers have been incredible.

His .308 ISO is the second best of his career, and it is the highest of hitters on the Rangers' roster.

Additionally, Napoi owns a HR/FB ratio of 23.2 percent is the second best of his career and it would rank third best in baseball if he had the requisite number of plate appearances. Improvements to his walk rate and strikeout rate have improved Naploli's value. His strikeout rate dropped from 26.9 percent to a career low 20.9 percent, and has improved his walk rate from 8.2 percent to a career high 13.4 percent.

Napoli's success against left-handed pitchers has been well documented this season (he has a wRC+ of 202), but he has been unlucky against right-handed pitchers. He has a .202 BABIP despite hitting six of his 13 home runs against them and posting a higher line drive rate.  

Ron Washington can write Napoli into the lineup almost everyday because of his versatility at catcher and first base, and he has proved to be just slightly above average at first since getting playing time there last season with the Angels.

He has a UZR of of 0.4 this season in 23 games, and he posted a 1.8 rating last season. Those numbers are comparable to Moreland's who has a -0.1 and -1.8 ratings over the same amount of games. He is below average defensively behind the plate, but he is capable enough of getting two starts a week at the position.

Playing in Arlington during the summer months will only help Napoli's numbers, and if he gets 400 plate appearances by the end of the season there is a chance he could get close to 27-29 home runs with a .255/.350/.540 type of line by the end of the season.