Cael’s Collection – Mike Napoli 2011 Topps #201

bradenbell-thumb-450x253-2681381b.jpgCael’s Collection  – Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Alumni Baseball Cards

This feature will highlight the baseball cards of Cedar Rapids professional baseball alumni that I have picked up over the years. Cael is my 15 month old son and someday all these will be his, so he gets the naming rights of this portion of my blog. Unfortunately for him, most of my cards are of minimal value, but the fun is in the hunt I suppose.

One of my most recent additions is Mike Napoli’s 2011 Topps card #201. One of my guilty pleasures is to pick up a box of the new Topps each year when they come out. Yes, I end up getting a lot of cards who did not play in Cedar Rapids, but its just fun to open packs of baseball cards from time to time. Topps worked out a deal last year to cut out Upper Deck from producing MLB cards. You do not have as many options as you once did, but sometimes that is a good thing. It likely saves be from buying a box of each.

I really like the 2011 Topps design for some reason or other. It does not hurt that there are several Cedar Rapids Kernels making their first appearance in a Topps base set (Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo). Mike Napoli’s card shows the powerful swing that has distinguished him from many of the other Major League catchers these past three seasons. Napoli (66 HR between 2008-10) and the Braves’ Brian McCann (65 HR between 2008-10) are the only catchers in baseball who have hit 20 or more HR in each of the last three seasons. Granted, Mike played quite a bit of 1B in 2010 while Kendry Morales was on the
disabled list, but he still provides a rare source of power behind the plate.

Mike Napoli 2011 Topps 201.jpg     Mike Napoli was traded twice in a period of five days this past offseason. The Angels sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera in exchange for Vernon Wells and some cash considerations on January 21. The Blue Jays then sent Napoli to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Frank Francisco on January 25. It should be interesting when the Angels and Rangers face off in 2011.

Mike Napoli was a member of the 2001 and 2002 Cedar Rapids Kernels teams. In 2001, the Kernels finished 60-77 under manager Tyrone Boykin. Napoli hit .232 with 5 HR and 18 RBI in 43 games for Cedar Rapids. In 2002, the Kernels posted a 81-58 mark under manager Todd Claus. The 2002 Kernels defeated Quad Cities before losing to Peoria in the semifinals of the Midwest League Playoffs. Napoli hit .251 with 10 HR, 19 doubles and had 50 RBI in 103 games for Cedar Rapids in 2002.

Mike Napoli enters the 2011 season with a career .251 batting average, 92 HR and 249 RBI in five seasons playing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

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