MLB Hot Stove: Mike Napoli Should Be Texas Rangers Biggest Signing
With the pain of losing the World Series finally subsiding for Texas Ranger fans, it's time for a retrospective appreciation.
While C.J. Wilson was busy getting lured away by the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers have been more or less quiet this offseason. I wanted to take a moment and highlight a player that I feel will have a huge impact on the Rangers in 2012: Mike Napoli.
Every year, the fall classic brings out the best in some previously unknown player. In 2010, Cody Ross stole the show for the San Francisco Giants. This year, Mike Napoli proved himself to be a legitimate big-game player. Going into this World Series, I swore that Adrian Beltre would be the MVP of the series. (Granted, I also thought the Rangers were going to win it all.)
Having said that, if the Rangers had won the World Series, Mike Napoli would have undoubtedly been the MVP.
Offensively He Was a Beast
In the seven-game series, Napoli compiled the following stat line: 20 at-bats (28 total plate appearances), two runs scored, seven hits, one double, two home runs, 10 runs batted in and six walks. He struck out four times. His batting average was .350 while his on-base percentage was .464. His slugging percentage was .700 and his OPS 1.164.
What does that all translate into?
Napoli finished first for the Rangers in OPS, slugging and RBI. He was second in batting average.
I need to repeat the fact that he had 10 RBI. That's as many as Michael Young (5), Adrian Beltre (3), and Ian Kinsler (2)—combined. Napoli was an offensive machine.
Up to Now, He's Been Just a Face in the Crowd
While Napoli's star shined bright during the World Series, the question is, why didn't we baseball fans notice him before?
The obvious answer is that he was buried on a team full of offensive and defensive weapons.
Napoli single-handedly destroyed my case for the Texas Rangers needing, and being in the hunt for, Albert Pujols. Allow me to clarify here: I am not saying that Napoli is as good as Pujols. What I am saying is that Napoli is good enough for to Rangers to not need Pujols. According to Ron Washington, the Rangers have no plans to let Pujols beat them, anyway.
First of all, Napoli is only 29 years old. Pujols is 31. That's not a huge difference in age, but a difference exists. Napoli is capable of both catching and playing first base as well as DH, if need be. Pujols can play first or DH.
Those are the eyeball examinations of the players, but let's take a quick look at the meat and potatoes.
Numbers Don't Lie
During the 2011 season, Mike Napoli's stat line looked like this: 113 games played, 72 runs scored, 118 hits, 25 doubles, 30 home runs, 75 RBIs, 58 walks, .320 batting average, .414 OBP, .631 slugging and 1.046 OPS.
During the 2011 season, Albert Pujols' stat line looked like this: 147 games played, 105 runs scored, 173 hits, 29 doubles, 37 home runs, 99 RBIs, 61 walks, .299 batting average, .366 OBP, .541 slugging and .906 OPS.
For comparison, Prince Fielder's 2011 stat line looked like this: 162 games played, 95 runs scored, 170 hits, 36 doubles, 38 home runs, 120 RBIs, 107 walks, .299 average, .415 OBP, .566 slugging and a .981 OPS.
In Short, the Rangers Are Going to Be Just Fine in 2012
With 34 and 49 fewer games played, respectively, Napoli put up fairly similar numbers to both Pujols and Fielder.
Of course, on the free-agent market, Pujols cashed in big and Prince Fielder is expected to, as well. The Rangers have Napoli arbitration eligible for the 2012 season. He becomes a free agent in 2013. According to SI.com, the average salary for a catcher is $2,160,425.94.
The Rangers have something special in Napoli. If they are wise, their biggest signing this offseason could be a nice contract extension for him.
Not bad for a guy who was traded to the Blue Jays, stayed there for all of four days and was traded to the Rangers last winter.