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Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli

Position(s):
C, DH, 1B
Born:
October 31, 1981
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6'
Weight:
215 lbs
Major League Debut:
5-04-2006 with LAA

 

Michael Anthony Napoli (born October 31, 1981 in Hollywood, Florida) is a Major League Baseball catcher/first baseman with the Texas Rangers.


Early career

Napoli attended Charles Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida. He was drafted out of high school by theAnaheim Angels in the 17th round (500th overall) of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft.

Minor league career

Napoli began his professional career with the rookie-level Butte Copper Kings, but sat out most of the year after suffering a lower back strain. He returned to the diamond in 2001 with the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes before transferring to Single-A Cedar Rapids. In 2002, he returned to Cedar Rapids, hitting .251 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI as the Kernels' primary designated hitter. He also started at catcher for 37 games. After being transferred to Rancho Cucamonga in 2003, Napoli only played 47 games after injuring his right shoulder.

2004 was Napoli's breakout year with the Quakes. His offensive production exploded, as he hit .282 with 29 home runs and 118 RBI, ranking seventh in RBI and ninth in walks in all of the minor leagues. In 2005, Napoli was promoted to Double-AArkansas, finishing second in the league in extra-base hits and fifth in runs scored.

Napoli played for the Santiago "Las Aguilas" in the Dominican Republic during the winters of 2004 and 2005.

Major League career

2006

Napoli was behind his best friend, Angels prospect Jeff Mathis on the organizational depth chart to start the 2006 season. However, Mathis struggled during his 23-game stint at the major league level to begin the season, allowing Napoli to make the active roster for the Angels. Napoli made his Major League Baseball debut on May 5, 2006 against the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park, and proceeded to hit a home-run in his first Major League at-bat off starting pitcher Justin Verlander. With solid offensive and defensive numbers, Napoli worked his way to become the Angels' regular starting catcher. In 2006, Napoli hit .228 with 16 home runs in only 268 at-bats.

2007

Napoli batting for the Angels in 2007.

Napoli began the 2007 as the Opening Day starting catcher, and split time with José Molina through the first half of the season. The second half of the season was injury-marred for Napoli, as he suffered a sprained ankle on a game-winning play at the plate during the final game before the All-Star break, causing him to miss 12 games. He then suffered a strained hamstring only 5 games after returning, causing him to miss all of August as a result. For the season, Napoli ended up batting .247 with 10 home runs, despite appearing in only 75 games

2008

 Napoli again was the Angels Opening Day starter at catcher, and after fully recovering from his 2007 injuries, began the 2008 season on a torrid pace, belting 6 home runs in the month of April. Despite his impressive hitting performances, Napoli continued to share time behind the plate with Jeff Mathis, who had assumed the back-up duties after the Angels trade of Molina during the 2007 season. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit Napoli again in July, causing him to miss 28 games with shoulder issues. However, after fully recovering from the injury, Napoli exploded down the stretch, leading all of Major League Baseball with a .457 batting average in the month of September. For the season, Napoli tallied a .273 batting average and 20 home runs, both career highs. Napoli also amassed an incredible .960 OPS (On-base + Slugging percentage), which would have placed him in the top 5 in the American League in that category, had he accumulated enough at-bats to qualify for the league leaders. Napoli's production helped the Angels win the 2008American League West Division championship, with an impressive 100–62 record.

Napoli also posted one of the greatest individual post-season performances in Angels history during the 2008 American League Divisional Series against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. In Game 3 of the series, with the Red Sox holding a 2–0 series lead, Napoli unloaded 2 mammoth home runs against Red Sox Starting Pitcher Josh Beckett, helping extend the game into extra innings. He then singled and scored the game-winning run in the 11th inning, preventing the Red Sox from sweeping the series.

2009

Napoli continued to compete with Jeff Mathis for the leading catcher spot in 2009. He also started 18 games at designated hitter as teammate Vladimir Guerrero could not fulfill that role because of an injury. Still, despite his platooning of playing time with Mathis, Napoli continued to thrive at the plate. In his first injury-free season since his rookie year, Napoli set or matched career highs in virtually every offensive category, including games played (114), at bats (382), runs scored (60), hits (104), doubles (22), and Runs Batted In (56). He also finished the season with a .272 Batting Average and again hit 20 home runs for the second season in a row. On defense, he led AL catchers in errors, with 8.

2010

In 2010, Napoli's role at DH seemed to be reduced as the Angels signed Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui.

He went into spring training with a bigger glove and worked on fundamentals in hopes of getting more playing time as a catcher.

However, Napoli wound up playing the majority of the 2010 season at first base. He made his first major league start at first base on May 30, after regular first baseman Kendrys Morales broke his lower leg in a walk-off celebration. With the loss of Morales for the season, and the return of fellow catcher Jeff Mathis from the disabled list, Napoli started 70 games at first base, posting a .989 Fielding Percentage. Napoli set career highs in several categories, most notably home runs (26). He was 7th in the AL in strikeouts (137), in 453 at bats.

Mike Napoli also became the Angels all-time leader in home runs by a catcher during the 2010 season.

2011

On January 21, Napoli was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with outfielder Juan Rivera in exchange for outfielder Vernon Wells. Four days later, he was traded by the Blue Jays to the Texas Rangers in exchange for pitcher Frank Francisco.

In his first season with the Rangers he batted .320 with 30 home runs (10th in the American League) and 75 RBIs, while improving his defense (throwing out 36% of base-stealers; 4th-best in the league). He had a .631 slugging percentage in 369 at bats.

In Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, he hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. The Rangers held on to win and take a 3-games-to-2 lead in the series.

 

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