Napoli Has Warts But Has Been Huge for Rangers

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Sure, Jon Daniels deserves a ton of credit for going out and getting ace pitcher Cole Hamels, who's pitched like an ace since coming to Texas at the trade deadline and has helped put the Rangers in prime position to play October baseball when it was a far-fetched idea just a couple of months ago.

But there are some other smaller moves Daniels has made after the deadline that have been almost as large, and there might not be a bigger one than the acquisition of Mike Napoli from Boston about a week after the non-waiver deadline.

Napoli didn't up good numbers in Boston this year, hitting .207 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs in 98 games, but he's come back to Texas after a couple of years away and given fans a couple of glimpses of the 2011 version of Napoli that put the team on his shoulders at times and would've likely won World Series MVP honors had the Rangers held on in that fateful Game 6 against the Cardinals.

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He's basically only playing against left-handed pitching — giving the Rangers a viable option against lefties after they killed the Rangers for much of the year — but he's producing to the tune of a .288 average, .382 on-base percentage, four homers and eight RBIs in 26 games.

But Napoli's numbers aren't all that can be considered when judging the move. Napoli is a great clubhouse guy and always has been. The Rangers of 2011 took on his personality along with guys like Adrian Beltre, and upon his arrival back in town last month he instantly became one of the team leaders.

Recently, he purchased for everyone the most hideous American flag shorts you could possibly imagine, and now everyone is wearing them. Since his arrival, the team has been looser and seems to be playing with a new sense of relaxation without a decrease in focus. Napoli has a lot to do with that, and don't forget about that when the Rangers are playing meaningful baseball in a few weeks.

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