Mike Napoli is on fire. It looks like Napoli will be a key factor in keeping his former team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim out of the 2011 playoffs. Napoli enters tonight’s game in Oakland with a seven game hitting streak, including multiple hits in six of those games. The Angels trail the Rangers by four games in the A.L. West. Angels G.M. Tony Reagins must be kicking himself for letting Napoli go. Of course, he had no way of knowing Napoli would wind up in Texas.
The Rangers tried to work out a deal with Anaheim for Napoli, but Reagins wasn’t interested in dealing the catcher to his division rivals. On January 21 Napoli was traded to Toronto, along with Juan Rivera, for outfielder Vernon Wells. Four days later the Blue Jays sent Napoli to Texas in exchange for reliever Frank Francisco. Needless to say, the Rangers got the best of that deal. Furthermore, Wells has been a disappointment in Anaheim, not to mention the revolving door at the catcher’s position for the Angels.
Meanwhile Napoli has put together a career year, thanks in part to a torrid September. For the month Napoli boasts a remarkable .478/.576/.848 slash line. Napoli has raised his season average to .319 and has 26 longballs. Napoli has been solid on defense as well. In 56 games behind the plate Napoli has thrown out eleven of 27 runners attempting to steal. In 32 games at first base he has committed only one error. Napoli will be behind the plate tonight catching sixteen game winner C.J. Wilson. A win would reduce the Rangers magic number to three.