Mike Napoli was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera last Friday, in exchange for Vernon Wells. (Read more about that trade’s fantasy impact here.)
On Tuesday, the Blue Jays flipped Napoli to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Frank Francisco, a trade that has the fantasy baseball community stirring once again.
In five big-league seasons, Napoli has played his home games in Anaheim, a stadium which has produced wildly inconsistent park factor ratings in recent seasons.
In Arlington, Napoli will play half his games in a park ranked seventh or better in terms of home runs allowed in each of the last three seasons. He’s also moving into a lineup with ridiculous firepower, and will likely bat sixth or seventh behind the likes of Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre.
Napoli will split time between catcher, first base and DH. He’ll likely rotate among all three positions while the Rangers attempt to find at-bats for Michael Young, Yorvit Torrealba, Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis. While this may prevent Napoli from everyday duty, he remains likely to get at least 400 at-bats again in 2011, a feat only 12 catchers accomplished last season.
Despite Napoli’s declining walk and contact rates, in addition to his ridiculously high strikeout rate, the 29-year-old is one of only two catchers to have hit 20 HRs in each of the last three seasons (Brian McCann being the other). Given his surroundings this season, 20 bombs are certainly likely once again.
Although Napoli hit just .238 last season, a .279 BABIP is at least partially to blame. The .251 career hitter checked in with batting averages of .273 and .272 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Expect a mark somewhere in between in 2011.
Like most catchers, Napoli’s at-bats will limited in 2011. Unlike most, however, Napoli has the ability to play first base and DH, which could allow him the opportunity for a career year in Texas.
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Image courtesy of: John Thompson
Fantasy Baseball Insiders’ 2011 Big Board:
- Nos. 1-10: Is Pujols Still The Top Pick?
- No. 11: Joey Votto
- No. 12: Robinson Cano
- No. 13: Ryan Howard
- No. 14: Alex Rodriguez
- No. 15: Prince Fielder
- No. 16: Matt Holliday
- No. 17: Mark Teixeira
- No. 18: Matt Kemp
- No. 19: Roy Halladay
Previous articles from Fantasy Baseball Insiders:
- Vernon Wells Traded to the Los Angeles Angels: Fantasy Impact
- 2011 Projections: Adrian Beltre
- The Sub-2.50 ERA Curse: Why Five Elite Starting Pitchers May Regress in 2011
- 2010 Batting Average on Balls in Play Leaders: What to Expect in 2011?
- 2011 Closer’s Corner: Papelbon, Cordero & Rivera Are the Only Reliable Options
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