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Mike Napoli: Top Five Catcher?

One fantasy baseball issue to follow closely for 2009 is the playing time of Angels catcher Mike Napoli.  Napoli got only 227 ABs for the Angels in '08, putting up a massive .273-20-49-39-7 line in that time.  He missed a month due to a shoulder injury, but even without that he would've projected for about 320 ABs. 

When a catcher shows that kind of massive home run power (and speed!), fantasy leaguers get delirious thinking what he could do with 400 ABs.  Reasonably, he'd have a shot at 30 HR, which would probably lead all catchers.  In a November mailbag, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer discussed the idea of having Napoli spend some time at DH, getting him 500-600 ABs.  Let's not get greedy - 400 would be great.  If Napoli is healthy, there's no reason Jeff Mathis should be stealing an abnormal amount of playing time.  The Angels are rumored to be in on various corner outfield/infield types, which would presumably leave less of a chance for Napoli to DH.

If Napoli gets those 400 ABs, he has a legitimate shot at being a top five catcher (and that allows for his AVG to drop under .260).  He is being drafted 11th among catchers, in the 19th round.  One health issue to monitor - he had arthroscopic shoulder surgery on October 31st.




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