SportsNation Blog Archives Mike Napoli
Red Sox's offseason questions
Beards have been shaved, duck boats have been put away, and the long offseason has begun for the world champion Boston Red Sox. The team extended qualifying offers to three key players today -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli. Ellsbury is likely to test the free-agent market, but Drew and Napoli seem far more likely to return after turning in unexpectedly solid seasons. The team also has to decide what to do at catcher -- they did not extend Jarrod Saltalamacchia a qualifying offer and could go for free agent Brian McCann to take up duties behind the plate.
Today offers us the chance to examine an interesting debate regarding the proper way to groom one's face. The Red Sox have used their beardly powers to go up 3-2 on the Tigers, best exemplified by noted bearded person Mike Napoli hitting a home run in Game 5 that appeared to travel (roughly) a million billion feet. That might not sit well with one of our chat guests today, Dr. Aaron Perlut of the American Mustache Institute. He has long been on record touting the superiority of mustaches over all other forms of male facial hair. We're neutral, although we'd like to see Napoli face off against, say, 2011 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year John Axford. Napoli is 0-for-1 with a strikeout against Axford, but, you know, small sample size and all that.
The Red Sox have a positive history with beards and the playoffs -- Johnny Damon, David Ortiz and now Mike Napoli.
That being said, the number of successful baseball players who have donned a lip sweater is extensive. Here we have Dr. Aaron Perlut doing his best Rollie Fingers impression.
Not to brag, but we've been on the Mike Napoli bandwagon for some time now. The man has done nothing but mash for most of his career, yet it's as if all of baseball has only recently figured this out. Napoli has done a whole lot to make himself known during this World Series -- after Monday night's clutch double, he has nine total runs batted in so far, while the rest of the Rangers combined have 10. He's even been playing some sterling defense behind the plate. This was a guy who was traded twice in the offseason, once for what's left of Vernon Wells and another time for a reliever. We'll call that a steal for Texas.
Are you surprised?
It's tough to stand out among the murderer's row that is the Rangers' lineup, but Napoli had the highest OPS on the team by far -- his 1.046 OPS this season dwarfed Adrian Beltre's second-place finish at .892.
Meanwhile, Vernon Wells put up a sub-.700 OPS in Los Angeles, while Frank Francisco had 17 saves in Toronto. Neither the Angels nor the Blue Jays made the playoffs, as you might have noticed.
Do you buy La Russa's excuse?
Napoli mashes against lefties -- his career OPS is almost 100 points higher when the pitcher is a southpaw. Tony La Russa said that crowd noise led to a bullpen mixup, which resulted in lefty Marc Rzepczynski's being left in to face Napoli. It did not go well for the Cardinals.