ST. LOUIS -- Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli is on a World Series magic carpet ride, batting .308 with two home runs, nine RBIs and a ridiculous 1.235 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Hard to believe just under a year ago he was on a plane out of town. Out of Anaheim that is, traded by the Angels, the only organization he had known as a professional baseball player.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a respected former big-league catcher and World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers, told the "Mason and Ireland Show" on ESPN 710 in Los Angeles earlier this week that a personality conflict between he and Napoli was not why the Angels decided to trade Napoli to Toronto as part of the deal for outfielder Vernon Wells.
Scioscia said injuries and durability issues were at the crux of the trade. Just a few days after the trade, the Rangers swooped in and dealt relief pitcher Frank Francisco to the Blue Jays for Napoli.
"We did not butt heads, that's absolutely false," Scioscia said on the show. "Mike had to work on stuff that didn't come naturally to him, more so than other catchers who maybe do it more naturally."
The Rangers have continuously praised Napoli's work behind the plate and his work at the plate with a bat in his hands remains absolutely stunning during the postseason. It's an offensive surge that started when he returned from a three-plus week injury on July 4. He finished the regular season batting .320 with 30 home runs. He was the hottest hitter in the American League from his return to the end of the season.
"I don't know. There's a reason they shipped me off," Napoli said. "Apparently they didn't think I wasn't good on the catching side."
That's about all Napoli had to offer on the subject. He laughed at the notion that he's not durable. And heck, you're running as hot as he is, why look to the past?
Napoli is batting .314 with three homers and 14 RBIs in the postseason. He even has a stolen base. If the Rangers can wrap up the World Series in Game 6, Napoli is the favorite to land MVP honors. While he's racked up the nine RBIs in and a couple homers in the first five games, the rest of the Rangers 10 RBIs and four homers.
"I know I'm doing well. It's a good feeling," Napoli said. "Every player comes to the field wanting to do something to help contribute. I'm helping to contribute during the World Series, which is what players want to do. I'm happy I'm able to do it."