(Photo Credit: Associated Press)
Mike Napoli is one of the most popular Texas Rangers in recent history. Acquired from Toronto before the 2011 season, the catcher/first baseman hit .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI in his first season with Texas. He also had the highest WAR (wins above replacement) of his career at 5.3.
Had Texas managed to hold on and win the 2011 World Series, Napoli most likely would have been the MVP. However, a bad 2012 (.227, 24 HR, 56 RBI, 1.4 WAR) led to Texas moving on. Unfortunately for Napoli, injuries and a failed physical led to a three year contract with the Boston Red Sox being voided, and a new, one year/$5 million deal ended up being agreed upon.
This season with Boston, Napoli is hitting .259, with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. Not to mention, his on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS are all up from 2012, and he’s racked up his second highest WAR (4.1) of his career. He’ll hit the free agent market this offseason at the age of 32, and should have a few more decent seasons left in the tank.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jamie, A.J. Pierzynski was a solid catcher for the Rangers this season. In fact, Pierzynski (.272, 17 Hr, 77 RBI, 1.6 WAR), was one of the most consistent contributors in the Rangers lineup in 2012. I would love to see him back (if the Rangers are unable to land Brian McCann in free agency). So how then, would Napoli and Pierzynski co-exist? That’s simple.
Bump Mitch Moreland and stick Napoli at first base.
Moreland is the latest in a long line of Ranger first basemen to under perform. He hit .232 this season and had a WAR of 0.6. He hit a miserable .186 after the All-Star break, and he hit only .227 against right handed pitching. If the Rangers can upgrade even slightly at that position, they need to do so.
Of course, there are other players the Rangers could go after to replace Moreland at first, including Justin Morneau and James Loney, and when it comes down to it, any of the three would be great gets for Texas. The simple issue is, Texas needs a new first baseman.
If that guy is Mike Napoli, then by all means go get him.
What do you think? Should they bring him back? Vote below and tell us why or why not.