The Real Mike Napoli - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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The Real Mike Napoli



    If you were to poll 100 Rangers fans about whether or not Mike Napoli had a disappointing season in 2012, you would probably hear at least 95 of them tell you yes. 

    Napoli's numbers tumbled significantly from what he put together in 2011. His batting average fell by almost 100 points, his slugging percentage took a big dip and he struck out 40 more times in 15 fewer plate appearances than he had last season. 

    You can put all the lipstick on those numbers that you want and it won't make it look like any less of a pig compared to what Napoli did in 2011. But it's only a pig relative to 2011.

    Napoli's 2012 production was actually more or less in line with what Napoli did when he was a member of the Angels, which suggests that this year was less a disappointment than last year was a positive outlier. Napoli had always struck out a lot while providing his club with solid power, something that the Rangers knew when they traded for him before the 2011 season. 

    What's more, Napoli's production was good enough to rank him third in OPS among American League catchers. He's either third or fourth in the league in most advanced offensive metrics as well, which makes him a valuable commodity at a position without a ton of great hitting options.

    It all matters because Napoli is a free agent and the Rangers have to weigh the likely reality of Napoli going forward against the other available options at the position. If you look at this season as a disappointment, you're missing the bigger picture of what Napoli brings to the table. Basically, you can't measure Napoli against Napoli. It has to be about who would be your catcher if Napoli leaves the team. 

    Does that mean the team has to bring Napoli back? Of course not. The financial details of any signing are essential to the mix and all the more so for a player who clearly has his pros and cons. 

    All it means is that Napoli's performance this season is what you should expect in whatever uniform he wears next season.