Napoli Experiment Shows Good, Ugly in Same Game

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This Mike Napoli experiment in left field has had some shining moments and some really embarrassing ones.

When Jeff Banister decided to put Napoli in the lineup against the Astros and lefty Scott Kazmir on Monday, it ruffled the feathers of several baseball folks, including yours truly, for putting someone with no outfield experiment — ever — in the outfield in the biggest series of the year.

Napoli started three of the games against the Astros, including Thursday's against Houston righty Lance McCullers, who has reverse splits and is better against lefties. In that time, he threw a runner out at third base, but he also dropped a fly ball and botched a play that many left fielders would've made on Thursday that led to Houston's two runs.

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But the reason Banister is doing this is to extend the Rangers' lineup, and no one can argue the fact that is working. In his last five games, Napoli has looked rejuvenated and similar to his 2011 and 2012 self. In those games, he's hitting .313 with two homers and four RBIs.

As infuriating as the outfield gaffes have been, Banister has made a point to put in a defensive replacement by the sixth or seventh inning with a lead. And as infuriating as it's been at times, we might as well get used to it, because in the grand scheme of things, it's working.

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