Tag:Mike Napoli
Posted on: May 5, 2009 1:53 pm

Can't Take Naps Out of the Lineup

Napoli's strong start is reminding Angels fans of his breakout 2008 season

Angels catcher Mike Napoli has been on a tear lately. A Pujols-like tear, really, that has seen him reach base in 13 of his last 14 at-bats. After last night's 4-for-4, 2 RBI performance, his average sits at .364 to go along with 4 HR and 11 RBI in just 55 at-bats. I'm guessing those AB's are going to skyrocket over the next few weeks, as manager Mike Scioscia just can't afford to take him out of the lineup. He's been the primary catcher all season, getting slightly more playing time than counterpart Jeff Mathis, but many of his upcoming plate appearances may come in a DH role, as he was in last night.

The Halos' offense has been rolling lately, as Napoli, Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales have all been driving in runs, and after stumbling a bit, 2B Howie Kendrick has found his stroke and has been hitting the ball much better lately. We all saw Napoli's power potential last season when he belted 20 HR's in just 227 AB's, a staggering pace that lead the majors. He also got hot down the stretch to finish with a .273 batting average (he's a career .250 hitter).

That ungodly HR rate was impossible to expect Naps to repeat, or even approach this season, but Angels fans were still expecting big things from Naps big bat. The 4 HR so far are nice, but what I've seen is a shorter, quicker swing, especially when he's down in the count, making him a really tough out. He can, and does, still turn it loose early in the count and when he's ahead, but even when he does, he still looks more under control than last season. He's always been a patient hitter with a good eye, but a long swing lead to a few too many strikeouts. He'll still strikeout a bit, but he looks like a much more complete hitter so far this season. I'm guessing a .265 average with 25-plus HR's isn't out of the realm of possibility. For now, Scioscia just has to put that bat of his in the lineup and ride out this hot streak.

Posted on: August 7, 2008 1:03 pm

Angels getting production from behind the plate

Even though their batting averages are flirting dangerously with the Mendoza Line, the Angels catching duo of Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli have given the team outstanding production from behind the plate. In fact, it's tough to find another Major League club that can match the pair's combined 21 HR and 67 RBI.

Napoli, who's currently on his way back from a shoulder injury, has belted 12 HR and knocked in 29 RBI in just 142 at-bats. His homerun rate of a dinger every 11.8 AB's is among the best in the bigs.

Mathis has caught nearly every game since his buddy (the two are good friends off the field) landed on the DL, and though streaky, has contributed 9 HR and 38 RBI to an Angels offense that needs every position player to pull his weight with the bat. If Mathis can find some more consistency at the plate, he looks like manager Mike Scioscia's choice to play the bulk of the innings down the stretch.

Posted on: April 15, 2008 6:21 pm

Angels Catchers Getting it Done

It wasn't easy watching the catching tandem that helped bring the Angels a World Series title go elsewhere. Bengie and Jose Molina held down the position with class and professionalism together for five seasons, Bengie getting clutch hit after clutch hit and Jose throwing behind unsuspecting base runners who wandered a little too far from first base. Man, they were fun to watch and easy to root for. While Bob Boone is still the best catcher in the organization's history, in my opinion, the Molina's comprised the best catching duo the Angels ever had. And while the team may have let Bengie go a season or two too early, they knew they had some young guys in the organization who were ready for the challenge.

We're now in the early stages of the 2008 season, and the Halos young catchers are showing why they were willing to part with Bengie after the 2005 season and Jose toward the end of last season.

Jeff Mathis has been a name Angels fans have been aware of since he was picked in the first round of the 2001 draft. He steadily moved through the minor leagues, and was named the organization's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, while also batting .276 with 21 HR. It appeared he was ready for the show. Mathis was named the team's starting catcher to start the 2006 season and he struggled...mostly with the bat, but he wasn't very good defensively either. He was soon sent back to the minors and another young prospect, Mike Napoli, was called up.

Napoli took advantage of the opportunity and solidified himself in the Angels lineup, hitting .228 with 16 HR and 42 RBI in just 268 at-bats. He was also more than respectable behind the plate, throwing out 31% of would-be base-stealers. It was a good enough rookie season to make me think, Mathis-who, we got Napoli.

Now the two Floridians comprise one of the best young catching tandems in the Major Leagues and both are off to a heck of start in 2008. Napoli has played in nine games and is batting .273 with 4 HR and 8 RBI, while Mathis has made the most of his five starts, hitting .353 with 2 HR and 3 RBI. It appears the catcher position for the Angels will be in good hands for the foreseeable future.

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