We spent much of the offseason talking about Josh Hamilton and how the club was going to try to replace some of his production. But how the club was going to replace Mike Napoli was also a topic of conversation.
It can be such a big difference in the offense when the guy behind the plate adds offensive production. Sure, the No. 1 job of a catcher for any Ron Washington team is to take care of the pitching staff. But if he can give the club some pop with the bat, it gives the offense a huge boost.
In 2012, the Rangers didn't get enough from the catching position. They ended up trading for Geovany Soto at the deadline and released Yorvit Torrealba in an effort to spark something. But with Napoli struggling and dealing with injuries, it never happened. Rangers catchers hit just .228 in 2012 and were middle of the pack in just about every offensive category. It was not a position of offensive strength, though Napoli did hit 24 home runs in limited playing time.
In 2011, the Rangers were tops in the AL in the average by catchers, hitting .299 behind the ridiculous second half that Napoli put together. Then, they were at or near the top in most of the offensive numbers for catchers.
They are trending that way again in 2013 thanks to A.J. Pierzynski. He had two key at-bats on Monday, helping the club rally in the seventh and then hitting the solo home run to give the club the lead with two outs in the ninth (Joe Nathan got the save to end it). Texas catchers are hitting .286, good enough for fifth in the league. The 10 RBIs are tied for third, along with the four home runs. We'll see if they can keep up that trend. But early in the season, it's been big for the Rangers to get some offensive production from Pierzynski behind the plate.