I recently wrote a fan post about the search for the next Buster Posey in an attempt to find which young catchers could emerge as fantasy stars in 2011. While there are a few youngsters who could provide nice value it's not likely any will become elite from the start the way Posey did. For those looking to find production after the Big-5 of McCann, Mauer, Martinez, Santana and Posey come off the board they are probably better off looking for an established back-stop who could emerge as a star. Mike Napoli's move to Texas could make him the next best option at the position.
Find out why I think this after the jump...
Just how much playing time Napoli receives is yet to be seen but there stands a chance he sees a boost in plate appearances now that he's out from under Scioscia's regime. Thanks to Kendry Morales and his apparent milk lacking diet Napoli made his way to the plate a career high 510 times in 2010 and could repeat that number if he gives Ron Washington reasons to slot him into the lineup early in the year. There will be competition for playing time a C, 1B and DH with Mitch Moreland, Yorvit Torrealba, and Michael Young so the at bats aren't guaranteed but Napoli's bat should make its way onto quite a few lineup cards. Toss in the fact that he moves from a neutral ballpark to one more geared toward hitters and Napoli has a slim but possible shot at 30 HR. The Ballpark in Arlington favors lefties more than righties so Napoli may not benefit from the park as much as many will think. The batting average might scare some owners off but if you believe in the healing power of a normalized BABIP you'll be happy to hear he posted a .279 BABIP in 2010. I see no reason to believe Napoli can't hit above .250 next year and he should at least match last year's counting stats.
Sure Napoli is a step below the best but he could also take a step forward and separate himself from the pack below. At the very least he should be a top 10 performer and that kind of assurance is rare at this position. If you own Napoli in a keeper league now may be the time to shop him as all the buzz may have inflated his value a bit.