The Boston Red Sox today signed first baseman Mike Napoli to a contract for 2013. To make room for Napoli on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter was designated for assignment. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Ben Cherington.
Napoli, 31, hit 24 home runs in 108 games for the Rangers in 2012, his first All-Star season. It was his third consecutive year with at least 24 homers. In addition, Napoli ranked sixth in home run rate (14.7 AB/HR) and eighth in walk rate (56 walks , 7.5 PA/BB) among American League players with at least 400 plate appearances this past season. Adam Dunn was the only Major Leaguer with better rates in both categories (13.2 AB/HR, 6.2 PA/BB).
The right-handed batter saw 4.41 pitches per plate appearance, trailing only Dunn (4.43) and A.J. Ellis (4.43) among big leaguers. His career rate of 4.27 pitches seen per plate appearance ranks fifth among Major Leaguers active through 2012 (min. 2,500 PA).
Napoli, who will wear Number 12, split time between catcher (69 starts), first base (24 starts) and designated hitter (9 starts) last year, totaling a .227 average (80-for-352) with 56 RBI to go along with his 24 home runs. He hit seven homers and drove in 16 runs over his final 16 regular season games following a stint on the disabled list.
Among American Leaguers with at least 700 plate appearances over the last two seasons, Napoli ranks fourth with a .931 OPS behind Miguel Cabrera (1.017), Jose Bautista (.990), and David Ortiz (.981). He set career highs in most offensive categories in 2011, including a .320 batting average, 30 home runs, 75 RBI, and 58 walks in 113 games.
Napoli is one of six American Leaguers with at least 20 homers in each of the last five seasons. Among all Major Leaguers, only Jose Bautista (14.0) and Albert Pujols (14.8) have averaged fewer at-bats per home run than Napoli (14.9) in those five years (min. 1,500 PA).
Since 2008, Napoli ranks fifth in the American League with a .522 slugging percentage and ninth with a .879 OPS. He leads big league catchers in home runs (120) and slugging during that time.
Napoli is the only catcher ever to reach double-digits in home runs in each of his first seven seasons appearing in the majors (min. 60 games caught per season). Brian McCann is the only other catcher with at least 20 homers in each of the last five years.
A seven-year Major League veteran, he has hit .259 (587-for-2,270) with 113 doubles, six triples, 146 home runs, and 380 RBI in 727 career Major League games. He spent the last two seasons with the Rangers (2011-12) after beginning his big league career with five seasons for the Angels (2006-10).
Of his 146 career homers, 109 have come while catching. His career average of 15.3 at-bats per home run as a catcher is the best among all Major League backstops over the past 35 years. In that time, only Mike Piazza (.559) has a better slugging percentage while at the position than Napoli (.516).
The Rangers went 79-47 (.627) in his 126 starts behind the plate over the last two seasons, the best winning percentage for any Major League catcher with at least 65 starts. His 3.80 catcher's ERA since 2011 ranks fifth in the AL (min. 1,000 innings).
Napoli, selected by the Angels in the 17th round of the 2000 June draft, was signed by Todd Claus, now the Red Sox' Latin American Coordinator and International Crosschecker.
In 19 career games at Fenway Park, Napoli has hit .306 (19-for-62) with four doubles, seven home runs, and 17 RBI. His .710 slugging percentage ranks third all-time at the ballpark (min. 70 PA) after Dave Kingman (.816) and Frank Robinson (.724). He also leads active players with a 1.107 OPS and just 8.9 at-bats per home run in Boston.
Napoli's clubs have reached the postseason in five of the last six seasons (except 2010). In 32 career postseason games, he has hit .272 (25-for-92) with five home runs, 19 RBI and 13 walks for a .373 on-base percentage. He led the Rangers with a .328 batting average (19-for-58) while starting all 17 postseason games during the club's run to the World Series in 2011.
Carpenter, 27, opened the 2012 season on the disabled list after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow on March 29. Before joining the Red Sox as a September call-up, he posted a combined 2.08 ERA in 21 appearances between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Greenville, Portland and Pawtucket. With Pawtucket alone, Carpenter pitched to a 1.15 ERA with four saves in four chances in 16 games. He finished the season making eight relief appearances for Boston, and earned his lone win, the first of his major league career, on September 14 at Toronto.