LA Angels: Who is the greatest catcher in franchise history?
4) Mike Napoli
Who can forget Mike Napoli’s first at-bat in the major leagues?
The 17th round pick, selected 500th overall in the 2000 amateur draft, stepped to the plate against Justin Verlander—a tough assignment for anyone, let alone a rookie catcher in his debut. He reacted by taking Verlander yard for a memorable home run in his first Major League at-bat.
Napoli’s time in Anaheim was often interrupted by injury and cut short when he was traded to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells (yuck!). However, when he did play, he was one of the franchise’s sneakiest power hitters, ranking third in the lowest number of at-bats per home run behind Mike Trout and Troy Glaus.
He remains the eighth best slugger in team history (.485) and ranks sixth in OPS percentage (.831). His best season was in 2008 when he hit 20 home runs in just 78 games. He also came up clutch in the postseason when he delivered on a game-tying two-run home run off Josh Beckett in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
Napoli finally played a full season in 2010, the year before he was traded out of town. Splitting time between catching and first base, he played in 140 games, hitting 26 home runs, driving in 68 runs, and batting .238.
He remains the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs for a catcher, his 92 total far outpacing Bengie Molina in second place.