Catcher Mike Napoli loves Angel Stadium
July, 22, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli walked into Angel Stadium on Friday in a prolonged slump. He entered the game with just two hits in his previous two at-bats and was hitting just .223 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs on the season. In his last 13 games prior to the series, Napoli was batting .116 (5-for-43) with no homers and one RBI.
But the former Angel sure loves hitting at his old home park. In two games, Napoli seems to have found the stroke that has been missing for all but one productive week in 2012 (there was a six-game span in April where he hit six homers and 11 RBIs). Napoli is 5-for-8 with two runs, two homers, two RBIs and a walk in this series so far.
He's watched his average jump 13 points in the process, and he's starting to look more like the guy that powered his way to a crazy good second-half spurt in 2011 (hit .383 with 18 homers and 42 RBIs after the All-Star break).
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Napoli would get it going at Angel Stadium. He's hit safely in 13 of 14 games in Anaheim since the start of 2011 and is hitting .434 (23-for-53) with eight homers, three doubles, 12 RBIs, 13 runs and has nine multi-hit efforts. He has a home run every 14.7 at-bats at Angel Stadium, the best ratio all-time at the park.
The good signs aren't simply the homers, but the fact that he's hitting the ball to the big part of the field and mixing in walks, something he did well last year. Napoli has 91 strikeouts this season, six more than he had all of last year. So watch that category and if Napoli cuts down on those, too. He has more walks (two) than strikeouts (one) in this series, certainly an improvement.
Last year, Napoli gave the bottom part of that order (he hit mainly sixth or seventh) a boost of power and someone who could drive in runs when given a chance. He's not going to hit like he did last year. No one should expect that. But his track record suggests he's much better than a .220 hitter and perhaps this series is a sign that he's getting out of his funk.
Do you think Napoli is snapping out of it? How do you think he'll do the rest of the second half?