Legends of Last Fall


During last year’s postseason, two Rangers whose performance was larger than life were Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli.  They delivered plenty of heroics throughout the playoffs, both at the plate and in the field (maybe not so much glove-wise in Game 6 of the World Series, but I digress). 
Napoli hit .328 with a .500 slugging percentage and .914 OPS during the 2011 playoffs.  But while Napoli was excellent, Cruz was downright otherworldly, tying the record for most home runs in a single postseason (also held by Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds) with eight – including an unbelievable SIX in the ALCS against Detroit.

Cruz and Napoli combined for a Herculean 31 RBI, which means they drove in almost 40% of all Texas runs during the 2011 postseason (36.5%, to be exact).  Both also used their rocket arms to gun down opposing baserunners at several key moments during the playoffs.  It’s hard to imagine the Rangers advancing to their second-consecutive World Series without the efforts of Napoli and Cruz, which was truly the stuff of legends.

Yet while the Rangers are once again poised to made a deep playoff run, hopefully culminating in the franchise’s first-ever championship, they have managed to do so thus far without any significant contributions from either of these two legends of last Fall.

Napoli slumped mightily earlier this season, hitting just .223 in 92 games, and he’s been on the disabled list for the past month.  Right now, he’s experiencing postseason action earlier than his Ranger teammates, as his rehab assignment is taking place during the Texas League Championship Series as a temporary Roughrider.  So far, his bat does not appear to have thawed at all.

Although Cruz hasn’t quite had the horrible year Napoli is experiencing, he also hasn’t capitalized on the momentum of his tremendous 2011 postseason performance.  He’s batting a pedestrian .254 (14 points below his career average) with a somewhat yawn-inducing .452 slugging percentage (42 points below his career average).  Those certainly aren’t terrible numbers, but they also don’t inspire much confidence that the Cruz from last year’s playoffs will return once this October rolls around.

Can the Rangers win it all this year without Napoli and Cruz returning to their 2011 postseason form?  Sure, they can.  But their chances would be greatly improved if they got an performance boost from these two legends of last Fall. 

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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