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MLB Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox: Will Mike Napoli Ever Become Elite?

Mike Napoli Boston Red Sox

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest signings in the 2012 free agency has to be the Boston Red Sox‘ addition of Mike Napoli.

Napoli was expected to come into Boston and perform at a high level. Being known as a guy to dominate at Fenway Park, this seemed like a match made in heaven. The question was would he ever become elite?

Napoli’s career has been a very good one. Since being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2000, he seemed like he would just hit for power and not for contact. In 2006, he posted a measly .228 BA, with his power being shown as he hit 16 HRs.

Napoli’s batting average would take a roller coaster ride in his years in LA. His career numbers as an Angel included a .251 BA, 92 HRs, and 249 RBIs. These numbers were over five seasons, so you could say that Napoli was a slightly above average player. He spent the next two seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he vastly improved in his first season there, posting a .320 BA, along with 30 HRs and 75 RBIs.

This is easily Napoli’s best statistical season, yet he was not recognized at all for it. No All-Star nod, no awards, nothing. It was as if the season never happened, which is a shame because a catcher usually doesn’t put up numbers like this.

The next and final season he spent in Texas, his average plummeted to .227, the lowest he has ever hit for. He did add 24 HRs and 56 RBIs, but those are all declining numbers. Somehow Napoli was still able to make the All-Star team.

Napoli signed with the Sox in the 2012 off season for a 1 year contract, worth $5 million. It was reported that he would’ve received a three-year contract worth $39 million, but with his nagging hip problems, the Red Sox had to cut down on salary and years on his contract. With incentives, Napoli could still earn $13 million.

He came into Fenway and contributed right away. With a much improved .257 BA, along with 10 HRs and 55 RBIs, Napoli is on pace to have a career year. Although he was not selected to the All-Star game, he is still helping the surprise Red Sox win.

Most people don’t consider Mike Napoli elite yet, but it seems as if he is slowly approaching that category.