MLB World Series 2011: Rangers' Mike Napoli on Verge of World Series MVP

T.J. Mcaloon@@tjmcaloonContributorOctober 24, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23:  Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning during Game Four of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Even with the 2011 World Series tied up at two games apiece, there has been one player in this series who has especially stepped up to help his team earn the two wins.  

That player has been catcher Mike Napoli, who leads this Rangers team in the World Series in home runs (two) and RBI (seven).  

Napoli’s three-run home run in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 4-0 Game 4 win over St. Louis blew the game open for the Rangers. The home run gave the game’s hero, pitcher Derrick Holland, the chance to go deep into the game, as he pitched 8.1 innings.  

The home run did not drive in the game-winning run; but in the ninth, with two runners on and two out, if Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday happened to get a hit driving in Rafael Furcal, who was on second base at the time, the home run from Napoli would have factored into the win more than it did in their shutout victory.  

This wasn’t the first time that Napoli has come up big in this World Series. In Game 1, a 3-2 loss, Napoli went 1-for-2 with a solo shot.  

For the series, Napoli has done a lot for this Rangers team with his offensive production, but he has done even more for this team with his work with the pitching staff.  

Coming into this World Series, both these teams were known for their big offensive numbers. Both teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in every major offensive category, and both had wins in their championship series-clinching games where they put up double-digit runs.  

The World Series looked as if it was going to be little-to-no pitching and all offense.  

However, Napoli has taken this Rangers pitching staff and has led them to games where they have only gave up three, one and zero runs. 

Yes, Game 1 resulted in a loss, but Game 2’s one-run performance and Game 4’s shutout have been the reason why the Rangers are two games from winning their first World Series in franchise history.  

The Rangers play Game 5 Monday night, with the end result being squarely on the shoulders of their catcher.  

When Napoli carries this team to their first World Series championship, either in Game 6 or 7, he will be rewarded with the World Series MVP trophy. 


You can follow TJ on Twitter: @tjmcaloon