Napoli Should Be the Angels' 2011 Designated Hitter

I am glad that Mike Napoli was pulled back from waivers, as he is an amazing hitter.  However, he is a defensive abomination.  Strong words, but I mean it. No, I am not calling for permanent installation of Jeff Mathis into the catcher position.

Instead, I am looking forward to a 2011 with Wilson/Conger as our catching platoon.  Mike Napoli will be the DH for the Halos.

Of course, this means that Bobby Abreu will be marched out to left field for a few games.  Abreu can DH if Napoli is needed to catch occasionally (no more than 30 games).

Someone called me out to back up my "Napoli defensive abomination" claim, noting that "he has less errors and a better caught stealing percentage than Mathis."

Actually, Jeff Mathis only has 5 errors, while Napoli has 10 (5 as a catcher, 5 as a 1B).  Both have played catch with outfielders three times this season (errors throwing the ball into the outfield).

Yes, Napoli does have a better caught-stealing percentage.  Napoli has had more chances to get a better CS...

According to, Mathis had 666 chances to be run upon.  Opposition ran on him only 39 times (5.86% of the available chances), 9CS, 30SB a 23% CS. 1800 batters have come to bat when Mathis is catching.  Mathis' Catcher's ERA (CERA) is 3.95.

Also citing, Napoli had 828 chances to be run upon. They ran on him 65 times (7.85% of the available chances), 18CS, 47SB a 28% CS. 2238 batters have come to bat when Naps is catching.  Naps' CERA is 5.06, a full run more than Jeff Mathis'.

For Napoli, that is 65 steal attempts in 63 games (1.03 attempts per game) vs Jeff Mathis' 37 attempts in 49 games (0.76 attempts per game).

Fact is … teams are running on Napoli more often than Mathis. Now, that may be a result of score, pitcher, runner, etc, but as it stands by itself Naps has had more chances to catch baserunners.

Well, comparing Napoli's defense to Mathis' defense is not adequate.  The Mathis "baseline" is junk, so any comparison to junk is not a valid measuring stick.  

I do have some specific issues I can think of off the top of my head about Napoli's defense:

1. As a catcher: The glove blocking the ump issue in the playoffs last year.
2. As a catcher: Throws going into center field, consistently.  Year after year.  I don't see improvement here.
3. As a catcher:  CERA failure.  He is a full run higher than Mathis.
4. His overall play at 1B sucks, albeit in a small sample size (49 games):
    a. Play at 1B where he did not cover and helped add more runs onto Kazmir’s decent outing Saturday.
    b. Missing at least 2 fieldable balls on drives that led to runs in other games.
    c. He has a 986 fielding percentage at 1B, which is pretty lousy.  5 errors on the season in 49 games at 1B.
    d. God knows what his UZR is at first, but it’s gotta be bad.

Napoli should only wear BATTING GLOVES.

I think Mike is a FANTASTIC HITTER.  While streaky, I think he and the Angels can be well served with him playing as a DH. The time off between at-bats will allow him to perfect his swing and "hopefully" avoid cold streaks.

I prefer a Bobby Wilson/Hank Conger catching duo in 2011 with Napoli DH’ing and occasionally spelling "third catcher."   Mathis should not be offered arbitration and should be released.

Mike Napoli (BBREF Page)
Jeff Mathis (BBREF Page)

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