The Texas Rangers surprised everyone when they acquired Mike Napoli a decade ago.
Mike Napoli spent the first five years of his career with the Los Angeles Angels, and had great success behind the dish.
Little did he know that in January of 2011, he would not only get traded, but would get traded twice in less than a week.
On January 21, the Angels traded Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Vernon Wells.
Rivera would end up playing the entire 2011 season with the Blue Jays, but Napoli didn’t finish unpacking his bags before being dealt again.
Just four days after Toronto traded for Mike Napoli, the Texas Rangers would acquire his services for incumbent closer Frank Francisco and cash.
Francisco had lost his closer role to reigning A.L. Rookie of the Year, Neftali Feliz, in 2010.
The Texas Rangers had no clue at the time how big of an impact Napoli would have on the franchise’s postseason success in the very near future.
During his first season with the Texas Rangers, Napoli would play in 113 games behind the dish, at first base and designated hitter.
Over those games, Napoli hit a cool .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs, numbers very reminiscent of Pudge Rodriguez’s.
Napoli also led the team in batting average, on-base percentage (.414), slugging (.631) and OPS (1.046).
The team leader in all offensive categories helped propel the Texas Rangers back into the postseason, and eventually back into the World Series.
During the 2011 postseason, Napoli hit .357 in the ALDS, .292 in the ALCS and .350 in the World Series.
Napoli easily could have won the World Series MVP with a two homer and 10 RBI performance, including his famous three-run homer to extend the Rangers lead in Game 4.
Unfortunately, all Texas Rangers fans remember how that ended.
Mike Napoli backslid a little during 2012, hitting .227 in 108 games for the Texas Rangers.
Even in a down year, though, Napoli was selected to his only All-Star game and hit 24 home runs during that season.
The Rangers ultimately fell short of the playoffs in 2012 to the young Oakland A’s, and lost Napoli and Josh Hamilton in free agency.
Napoli would spend the next two and a half seasons in Boston, where he would win a World Series ring with the Red Sox.
Then on August 7, 2015, Napoli came back home to the Texas Rangers.
He hit .295 in his second stint with the Rangers, adding five homers and 10 RBIs to his resume.
Napoli would once again leave via free agency, sign with the Indians and make it back to the World Series in 2016.
Mike Napoli would enter his age 35 season in 2017 with the Texas Rangers, where he finished out his big league career.
He struggled in his final season in Texas, and would later retire on December 8, 2018.
The Texas Rangers struck gold in the early months of 2011, in a deal that could be considered a steal nowadays.
From the big time homers to the NAP-O-LI chants that echoed through the brick arches of Globe Life Park, Mike Napoli’s legacy will forever live on in Rangers history.