Sep 072012
 
Mike Napoli 3

Which Naps coming back?According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Mike Napoli continues to make strides in his recovery from an injury to his left quad.  While it sounds like Nap just needs to get more comfort in his running, Rangers fans hold out hope that we get the 2011 version of Nap upon his return, rather than what we saw during the first 4+ months of the 2012 season.

Want the 2011 version of Nap back for the final month of the season and the playoff run?  I have the answer!!  Read on…

A look at the numbers…

Napoli, who has not played in a game since August 10th (DET), was making it clear that 2011′s performance was the outlier in his career and not the norm.  Here is a quick look at Nap’s career numbers:

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2006 24 LAA 99 268 47 61 13 0 16 42 51 90 .228 .360 .455 .815 110
2007 25 LAA 75 219 40 54 11 1 10 34 33 63 .247 .351 .443 .794 107
2008 26 LAA 78 227 39 62 9 1 20 49 35 70 .273 .374 .586 .960 148
2009 27 LAA 114 382 60 104 22 1 20 56 40 103 .272 .350 .492 .842 120
2010 28 LAA 140 453 60 108 24 1 26 68 42 137 .238 .316 .468 .784 115
2011 29 TEX 113 369 72 118 25 0 30 75 58 85 .320 .414 .631 1.046 173
2012 30 TEX 92 301 45 67 7 2 17 40 50 108 .223 .343 .429 .771 101
7 Yrs 711 2219 363 574 111 6 139 364 309 656 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
162 Game Avg. 162 506 83 131 25 1 32 83 70 149 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
LAA (5 yrs) 506 1549 246 389 79 4 92 249 201 463 .251 .346 .485 .831 119
TEX (2 yrs) 205 670 117 185 32 2 47 115 108 193 .276 .382 .540 .922 140
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

As you can see, Napoli’s 2012 performance is down across the board from that magical 2011 season.

  • .223 batting average is actually the lowest of his career.  He’ll have a limited number of games upon his return to try to bring that up over .228 he hit in his 2006 rookie season in Anaheim.
  • 108 whiffs in 92 games YTD exceeds the respectable 85 (for a slugger) he accumulated in 2011 in 113 games played.
  • Walks is really the only thing that doesn’t seem to have gotten worse (50 YTD compared to 58 in 2011).
  • Check that – he has 2 triples!

You could go on and on, and I won’t, but the point is that it looks like Nap was playing well above himself in 2011 and his performance has regressed to the mean.

Could we get Nap v.11 for the stretch run?

Taking a closer look at 2011, we see the cycle of Nap’s season, and there is hope:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 17 45 12 12 3 0 6 12 13 8 .267 .431 .733 1.164
May 21 63 9 13 3 0 4 13 10 17 .206 .320 .444 .764
June 8 28 3 5 1 0 0 0 1 9 .179 .233 .214 .448
July 18 61 16 27 8 0 5 14 7 12 .443 .500 .820 1.320
August 28 102 20 31 5 0 7 17 13 23 .304 .388 .559 .947
Sept/Oct 21 70 12 30 5 0 8 19 14 16 .429 .518 .843 1.361
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

Started the season off with a bang, slid back into mediocrity in the early summer months and finished the season and post-season at a ridiculous All-Star level.

Last year was truly “The Year of the Napoli”:

Now, a closer look at 2012 YTD:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 20 70 11 18 1 0 7 14 6 27 .257 .338 .571 .909
May 25 77 14 17 2 2 2 11 11 27 .221 .322 .377 .699
June 23 76 11 18 3 0 3 5 12 26 .237 .356 .395 .750
July 19 60 7 11 0 0 5 8 17 19 .183 .364 .433 .797
August 5 18 2 3 1 0 0 2 4 9 .167 .318 .222 .540
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

May and June brought similar levels of mediocrity after a strong start in April, but we started to see a bit of an uptick in July with Nap’s OPS creeping up closer to the .800 range, which would be considered above average – especially at the catcher position.  Disregard August numbers given the injury.

A closer look at July shows us that his batting average was at the lowest level it’s been all year, but his walks and power numbers were up.

  • 5 home runs in 60 July at-bats (HR/12.5 AB) vs. 5 home runs in 153 May/June at-bats (HR/30.6 AB)
  • 17 walks in 19 July games vs. 23 walks in 48 May/June games

By no means was this July in line with what Nap did to close out his 2011 campaign, but as mentioned above, it gives us a glimmer of hope.  As good as this current team is, it could use Napoli v.2011.

Theories on Nap’s decreased production

OK, full disclosure before we go any further…I’m the same guy that was ready to fork over the bank to Nap before the season started.  I thought we had seen the breakout in 2011 rather than just a prolonged hot streak from an above average MLB hitter – and I’m not fully convinced I’m wrong (proven by this article), but his 2012 performance is like mud in my face at this point.

Clearly, when you look at the career stats above, 2011 was the outlier, so perhaps the real question is – Where in the hell did 2011 come from, and how do we get it back for the next two months?  Let’s first examine the top 5 theories behind why his 2012 performance hasn’t matched what he did last year (with odds since I gamble on everything):

  1. Which Naps coming back?He’s misses C.J. Wilson – while they had a little off-season friction over C.J. tweeting out Nap’s cell phone number, could it be that they really were buds?  They both made Dustin Dietz’s “Team D-Bag”, so might they have more in common than we actually realize?  Nap has dismissed a friendship, much a relationship that could cause a funk like he’s been in much of 2012.
    “You know, I haven’t even talked to him since the end of last season,” Napoli said after the so-called prant. “We don’t have that type of relationship.”
    ODDS – 75:1 
  2. Which Naps coming back?He misses Jered Weaver and the rest of the Halos – Let’s face it, Nap’s first season here in Texas was the honeymoon, and the honeymoon is always fun!  Well, maybe the honeymoon is over.  Napoli was drafted by the Angels organization in 2000.  It’s natural for a little homegrown loyalty to develop in players that come up through the ranks and experience their first success all with one organization.  The theory calls out Weaver specifically because they clearly have a friendship (suck on that C.J.), which we were all reminded of at the 2012 All Star Game (here and here) – and there’s nothing wrong with that…as long as Nap’s longing for quality time with his former homies isn’t the reason for his decreased production.
    He’s a professional.  He has the off-season to rekindle the flames.  Seems like a long shot.
    ODDS – 60:1 
  3. Which Naps coming back?The Ankle of Steel – Look at that picture!  Zoom in on it, crop it, posterize it, make it black and white, rotate it, make it look like a Zombie, do whatever you want to it…it’ll still makes you a little queasy.
    Physically, he’s over it, proven by this ability to effectively run the bases and play the catcher position during the first four months of the season.  But mentally?  Emotionally?  Could he be addicted to the pain?  Addicted the baboon ankle transplant be affecting his other senses and abilities?  Doubt.  Seems like another long shot.
    ODDS – 45:1
  4. Too much nookie -
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?  Yes it’s them again…
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?
    Sorry…that one got mixed in accidentally.
    No need for further examination of this one.  Nookie makes us stronger.  Theory trashed.
    ODDS – 1,000,000:1
  5. Which Naps coming back?The Evan Grant Pizza Curse –  It would be a first…that we know of, so I’m not 100% sure I can label it as a curse already, but maybe this will dissuade Mr. Grant from naming a pizza after a player ever again.  So far, every time Grant’s done this, the player follow’s it up with a decrease in production the following season.  It’s groundbreaking, but a strong contender.
    ODDS – 15:1

The Odds On Favorite

Overuse of the “NA-PO-LI” chant by Ranger fans -

Last season, the chants started in early October and carried through the playoffs and World Series – fans called out with the chant in key situations and were usually answered with clutch performances from the overnight fan favorite.

This season, fans were half-heatedly chanting “NA-PO-LI” with the bases empty and 2 outs in the 5th inning of a game the Rangers already had in the bag.

Can you see how it would lose a little power?

ODDS – 2:1

There you have it.  Vegas Odds say that we, the fans, can bring back Napoli v.2011.  It has nothing to do with C.J. or Weaver, his baboon ankle or nookie consumption, or even that damn pizza.  It’s about respecting the power of the chant.

I move that we reserve the “NA-PO-LI” chant for those times when we need it most.  For those times when we need some magic and when a situation calls for Super Nap (formerly known as Napoli v. 2011).

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