Napoli's Return Should be Different Than Hamilton's - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Napoli's Return Should be Different Than Hamilton's



    Want to see how to set up a return to a former stomping ground, Josh Hamilton?

    Check out your old teammate's Twitter feed from Friday morning

    You see, on Twitter, Mike Napoli might be full of bologna, but if he is, he at least didn't alienate Texas Rangers fans before his return to Arlington.

    Napoli spent two seasons with Texas before leaving for Boston via free agency after it became apparent the Rangers didn't want to give Napoli the money he ended up getting from the Red Sox.*

    *Of course, Napoli's original big contract was voided after he failed his physical and he was instead signed to a one-year, $5 million deal that the Rangers would've likely gladly given him.

    Napoli returns to Arlington this weekend with his new team, the Boston Red Sox, and he's returning in a very good way, as he leads all of MLB in extra-base hits and RBIs with 31 after the season's first month — nearly half as many as he had in his biggest season as a Ranger in 2011.

    Napoli was always a fan favorite in Arlington and that will likely be shown this weekend when he can expect a warm reception from Rangers fans — one he deserves. We expect to see Napoli got a warm ovation the first time he's announced in Friday's game, and after that, it's game on as the Rangers will be trying to beat the best team in baseball through the first month. And a lot of that success if due to Napoli's blazing start, which is resembling the tear Napoli went on over the second half of 2011 and carried into that postseason when he would have undoubtedly been the World Series MVP had the Rangers been able to close the deal against the St. Louis Cardinals in six games.

    Napoli was always a reliable source of pop in the Rangers lineup, but much of it came in waves and at the expense of just getting on base and being a consistent hitter. But for that magical second half of the 2011 season, Napoli was one of the best hitters in baseball, as he has been over the first month of the 2013 season. Let's just revisit what he did over that stretch before finishing the season with a .320 batting average — well above his career average — to go with 30 bombs and 75 RBIs.

    Over that stetch when Napoli made 58 starts, he hit .383 with a .466 on-base percentage and a .706 slugging percentage with an other-worldly 1.171 OPS. He hit 18 home runs and drove in 42 runs over that three-month stretch. Then in the postseason, he continued his tear, hitting .350 with two homers and 10 RBIs in the seven-game World Series loss while playing great behind the plate.

    So yeah, Napoli deserves the ovation he'll likely get on Friday when he's announced for the first time, and Rangers fans shouldn't feel dirty about it. But then it's on as the Rangers and Derek Holland will be trying to shut down the hottest bat in the surprising Red Sox's lineup.