Oct 30, 2016

Italian / American Player With One Of MLB's Best Beards: Mike Napoli (2006-2012)

Michael Anthony Napoli was born on October 31st, 1981 in Hollywood Florida. The Italian American catcher / first baseman was drafted out of high school in Pembroke Pines, Florida by the Anaheim Angels. In 2004 at A Ball he hit 29 HRs with 118 RBIs getting promoted to AA in 1995 where he hit 31 HRs with 99 RBIs.

By 2006 he was on the Angels roster as their main catcher over Jose Molina. Napoli entered the major leagues with a HR in his first career at bat, coming against the Detroit Tigers. Overall in his rookie year he hit 16 HRs with 13 doubles in 94 games, although he only batted .228. By 2008 he brought his average up to .273 and would hit over 20 HRs in each of the next three seasons.

He competed for the catching job with Jeff Mathis, although Napoli was a far better hitter than Mathis, manager Mike Scioscia prefers a better defensive catcher. Mathis threw out 25% of base runners to Napoli’s 15%, & the Angels staff had better ERA of almost one run when Mathis was behind the plate. Scioscia had a closed door meeting with Napoli about his catching during the summer of ’09. Napoli led all catchers with eight errors in 2009 & his seven passed balls were fifth most in the league. But his power was needed in the Angels line up, he saw more time at DH as well as first base.

In 2010 he had his best Angels season playing in 140 games, with 108 hits, 26 HRs, 68 RBIs, 24 doubles & 60 runs scored. His batting average did fall to .238 & he struck out 137 times (7th in the league). In Anaheim he played in three post seasons, hitting a pair of HRs with four RBIs in the 2007 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

In January 2011 he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells. Four days later he was sent to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco. Napoli would share time during the regular season behind the plate (61 games) with veteran Yorvit Torrealba (98 games).

 Napoli would play at first base as well as designated hitter and have an incredible year at the plate. He hit .320 although his 369 at bats did not qualify him in the batting leaders, hit 30 HRs (10th in the league) with 25 doubles & 75 RBIs playing in 116 games over all. He saw more playing time behind the plate in September & by the post season he was the Rangers main backstop.

Post Season 2011: In the 7th inning of Game #3 of the 2011 ALDS he hit a two run HR off Tampa’s Dave Price putting the Rangers ahead 2-1, in a game they would win 4-3. In the Series he batted .357 (4-15). He had a good ALCS against the Detroit Tigers as well, batting .292 with an RBI & six runs scored.

In the World Series he became a household name & a Texas baseball legend as the fans in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex chanted Napoli -Napoli!! In Game #1 he hit a two run HR off Chris Carpenter to tie the game at two, although Texas went onto lose 3-2.

In Game #4 he greeted new pitched Mitchell Boggs with a tremendous three run HR in the 6th inning sealing the Rangers 4-0 win, tying the series at two games each. In Game #5 he came to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning with the bases loaded & the score tied 2-2. Napoli lined a double to centerfield scoring two runs, leading the Rangers to a three games to two series lead.

In the classic Game #6 he broke a 4th inning 2-2 tie with an RBI single, overall in the series he lead all teams with 10 RBIs. He batted .350 (second for Texas behind Ian Kinsler) with seven hits & two HRs.

In 2012 Napoli returned with a one year deal to avoid arbitration. He  played in 108 games, slugging 24 HRs but his average fell to .227 with 56 RBIs. Texas lost their hold on first place in the final days of the season & lost the first round of the new one game Wild Card Playoff.

For 2013 he signed on with a one year deal for the Boston Red Sox, as the teams primary first baseman. Napoli was second to slugger David Ortiz on the club in HRs (23) & RBIs (92). His 38 doubles were tied with Ortiz for best on the Sox team. Napoli also went down swinging 187 times.

Post season 2013: In the ALDS against the Tampa Rays he went just 2-12. In the ALCS he was the hero of Game #3 at Detroit, hitting a HR off the Tigers' Justin Verlander, while scoring the only run of the game in John lackey's 1-0 victory. In Game #5 he hit a HR off Anibal Sanchez in the Red Sox three run 2nd inning.

In the Red Sox World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Napoli drove in three runs with a double in the Game #1 Red Sox 8-1 victory. He would get just one more hit in the five game series, an RBI single in the clincher game five.

That December he signed another deal with Boston for 2014. In 2014 as the Red Sox fell to fifth place, Napoli struggled all year with injury & sleep issues. He broke his finger in a game against the Chicago White Sox & it plagued him all season. Overall that year he hit .248 with 17 HRs 20 doubles & 55 RBIs.

Napoli suffered from sleep apnea &  under went facial reconstructive surgery to cure the issue up. "I've been dealing with sleep apnea for a long time, my whole career. I've tried numerous things and none of them worked. Dental mouth piece, CPAP machine, medicines ... It's just gotten to the point where I have to get this done." The procedure was a success & Napoli moved on.

But 2015 started out just as bad, in 98 games with the Boston Red Sox he hit just .207 & was traded to the Texas Rangers in August. He was used mostly against left handers during his second stint with the Rangers, batting .295 with 5 HRs 10 RBIs in 35 games. After the season he signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians.


Napoli with his Mom
Family: Napoli has a very close relationship with his mother, Donna, who raised him & his brother. "It's a strong relationship, ever since I was a little boy," said Napoli. "My mom worked two jobs to make sure I had everything -- me and my brother. She always made sure I was at practice on time. She made sure I had the right equipment. There's a real strong bond between me and my mother." He sports a tattoo of her had written signature in a rose on his arm. She joked she was honored but with all the other ink on his arm, it's camouflaged.

Party at Napoli's: Napoli was a great success for the first place Cleveland Indians helping them get to the World Series. The popular Napoli inspired a Cleveland fan from Parma, Ohio to come up with a t-shirt slogan "Part at Napoli's" after hearing about the famous bash at his place after the Sox World Championship. The shirt was give to him as a present & when Napoli was seen on a post game interview wearing it, demand was outstanding. The shirt raised $150,000 in monies that went to the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.


In just his second game in a Cleveland uniform, he hit a 7th inning HR at Cleveland to help defeat his former Boston Red Sox team mates. The first HR of his season came off Junichi Tarzawa proved to be the game winner breaking the 6-6 tie. He closed out April with 4 HRs & 11 RBIs. He had a huge May driving in 25 runs while hitting 7 HRs. At the end of the month through June 12th he drove in runs in 14 of 19 games while hitting safely in 17 of 19 games. On June 2nd, his 9th inning sac fly was the walk off game winning heat, to beat the KC Royals in a come back Indian win.

He closed out July starting a 16 game hits streak, in that stretch he hit HRs in five straight games & drove in ten runs as well. On August 11th he had a four hit, four RBI day including a three run HR in a 14-4 win over the LA Angeles.

He closed out the season having the best year of his career, having career highs in HRs (34) RBIs (101) bits (133) runs (92) games played (150) & matching his walks total (78). His veteran presence among the young players speaks way beyond the big numbers he put up. 

Quotes: Terry Francona- "The numbers are really good, but all of the other things aren't overstated. I mean, what he's done is legit, and it's powerful. Sometimes you just get lucky along the way where you get pretty special people and you try to take advantage of it."



Post Season 2016: In the ALDS Napoli helped his Indians surprise the Boston Red Sox with a three Game sweep of the series. He went 2-12 in the series with a Game #1 double.

In the ALCS he was quiet for the first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays. But in Game #3 at Toronto, he started out with a 1st inning RBI double & then made history in his next at bat.


He broke a 1-1- with a 4th inning HR that made him just the fifth player in MLB history to hit HRs for four different teams. The Indians went on to a 4-2 win & a commanding 3-03 series lead. They won it in five games, as Napoli went on to his third World Series in just six years, all with different teams.
After the winning the AL pennant early & having a few off days, Napoli encouraged his team to celebrate in Las Vegas but that was rebuffed by management.

In the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Napoli got a hit & scored the second run of the series in Game #1. In Game #2 he got two hits in the 5-1 loss. As the series moved to Wrigley Field, everyone was looking for a high scoring affair, as  the Cubs hosted a World Series game for the first time since 1945.


But Napoli saw the winds blowing in & told his team mate Andrew Miller that he predicted they would win 1-0 that night. Sure enough Napoli was right as the Indians won a 1-0 squeaker over the Cubs.
He was upset he did not get the start in Game #4, but did come in later to finish it out as the Indians took a 3-1 World Series lead. In the Game #5 loss he got a hit in the 7th inning & represented the tying run, but was left stranded on base.

In his eleven year career Mike Napoli has been to three World Series, playing in eight post seasons batting .234 with 8 HRs & 29 RBIs.

Overall in his career he has played for four teams batting .252 with 238 HRs 213 doubles 678 RBIs a .465 slugging % & a .352 on base %. He has been a catcher, a first baseman, out fielder & DH.

Family: Napoli had been linked to a realation ship with model Alison McDaniel. He currently has been dating nursing student Sophia Phalen.

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