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KFFL Baseball Analysis Draft and Expert League
Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:00am|
By Tim Heaney
Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers
Following a deep slump and a DL stint from a strained oblique before the All-Star break, Napoli had a second half for the ages before a standout Fall Classic. As a result, Napoli has been considered among the top two catchers this draft season because of his hitter-friendly environs, outlets for at-bats, prodigious power for the position, and the fact Mike Scioscia isn't his manager anymore. On paper, it makes sense.
What doesn't: that .320 batting average from 2011. He took more walks and whiffed less, but his batted-ball results didn't change much from recent seasons yet somehow produced a .344 hit rate, a career high. Napoli wasn't even playing full-time early in the season!
Heading into camp, the ankle injury Napoli suffered in Game 6 of the World Series isn't expected to cost him any time, but he probably won't be 100 percent for the near future. That's a concern for any baseball player, let alone a croucher.
He'll sit in the mid-20s for homers in a typical Napoli season - which typically includes time on the sidelines - but the inflated clip from last year had the same impact on his final value. While it won't necessarily be a crippling regression, his likely return to a batting average around .275 should remind you that he isn't overwhelmingly better than other top-rated backstops.
Of course, Napoli's downside - via injury and statistical reckoning - could have him finishing 2012's statistical rankings alongside the likes of, say, Miguel Montero, who's noticeably cheaper. Napoli must repeat 2011 to meet his high tag. Feelin' lucky? -TH