Mike Napoli did the Rangers a huge favor: He had his career year the season before his contract was up.
That's not the way players seem to do it these days. No matter the sport, when a player enters a contract year you can almost always count on increased production.
With Napoli, it was the opposite. "The Year of the Napoli," as Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon called it, was 2011, not last season.
That made it easier for the Rangers to allow Napoli to walk away this offseason. On Monday, Napoli agreed to a three-year, 39 million deal with the Red Sox.
Really, it was the second half of 2011 when Napoli exploded. He hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBI all marks well above anything he had done in five previous years in the bigs.
When Napoli fell back to earth last season .227 average, 24 homers and 56 RBIs the Rangers had a clearer indication of who the real Mike Napoli is.
By sinking back closer to his career averages in 2012, the Rangers were able to judge that it wasn't anythin...