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Napoli Has Been Surprising Star

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Remember when Mike Napoli was acquired this winter? It came shortly after Adrian Beltre's acquisition, which pushed Michael Young from third base to designated hitter/super utility man.

    When Napoli was acquired, it was as a designated hitter candidate, especially against left-handed pitching, which he absolutely murders.

    That made Young even madder, and led to the Rangers nearly losing him to Colorado. Rangers fans are all thankful that didn't happen.

    As the season began, Napoli was used in that suspected role, as a DH and also some at first base.

    So far this season, in 59 games, he is hitting .261 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs with an on-base percentage of .373. Those numbers are good. Not great, but good.

    But that's not where Napoli has been so huge for the Rangers.

    The Angels let Napoli go after last season because it was believed he wasn't a good enough defensive catcher/game caller.

    Yet, when Napoli has been behind the plate for the Rangers this season, the pitching staff has fed off something. It's definitely not a coincidence.

    In the last 54 innings he's caught, including Sunday's 3-0 loss to Toronto, the Rangers pitchers have allowed just four earned runs.

    So while he's never been known as a defensive asset, he's doing something right this season and has been a pleasant surprise for Ron Washington & Co.