Mike Napoli has had quite the exciting offseason thus far. He was first traded to the Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells. A questionable move on the part of the Angels but I won’t get into that. The Blue Jays then flipped Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco and cash in the following days. Napoli is nowhere near being a good defensive catcher. What Napoli really brings to the table is his offense.
Mike Napoli is one of the most underrated power hitters in all of baseball and I will show you why.
Isolated Power (ISO) measures a player’s “true power.” The league average ISO sits around .150. As we look at Napoli’s stats, his career ISO is .234. To get a better grip on how he compares to some of the games top power hitters, let’s compare his ISO stats to Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez. Ryan Howard has a career ISO of .238 and Adrian Gonzalez’s career ISO is .223. We must recognize that Napoli’s number of plate appearances is much fewer than that of the sluggers I listed above, but nonetheless Napoli’s ISO is still very impressive and we need to acknowledge that.
Napoli’s ISO season by season (Blue line represents league average):
Year after year Napoli has posted an ISO that is right up there with the top power hitters in the league. His rookie season, in 2006, he had an ISO of .228 in 325 plate appearances. If we compare that to some of 2010′s top rookie power hitters, it was better then that of Jason Heyward, Carlos Santana, Ike Davis, and a handful of other notable rookies.
In 2008, Napoli posted huge power numbers despite having only 274 plate appearances. His ISO was a career high at .313. He hit 20 homeruns that year in which he averaged a homerun every 13.7 plate appearances. If he kept this rate up, and saw 500 plate appearances, he would have hit about 36 homeruns. That is terrific power for a catcher. The most homeruns hit by a catcher in a single season is 43 by Javy Lopez in 2003. Napoli’s ISO really stood out in 2008. If you set the minimum plate appearances for 250 which, yes I know is low, then Mike Napoli would have led the league in ISO.
2010 was no different for Napoli. His ISO was .230 which was better than that of Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, David Wright, and Evan Longoria. That is some impressive company.
Napoli is now 29 years old and there is no reason why he can’t continue to get better. It is still a bit unclear of where Napoli will factor in to the Rangers plans this year. We could see him at catcher, designated hitter, and first base. Napoli has yet to see 550 plate appearances in a single season and if he gets the time this year, we could really see his homerun totals take off in the hitter friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Adrian Gonzalez, Angels, Blue Jays, Carlos Santana, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Frank Francisco, Ike Davis, Jason Heyward, Javy Lopez, Juan Rivera, Mark Teixeira, Mike Napoli, Rangers, Ryan Howard, Vernon Wells