Let's keep going with our look around some various positions for the Rangers heading into the postseason.
Last season, Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor both got chances to play in the postseason as Treanor caught C.J. Wilson and Molina's bat, silent for much of the second half, came to life in the playoffs. But until then, catching wasn't a strong suit for that 2010 Rangers club.
A lot has changed in a year. Thanks to Mike Napoli's remarkable season and the streaky bat from Yorvit Torrealba after a slow start, the Rangers have received solid production at catcher. In fact, Texas has scored the second-most runs this season from the catching position and has a .298 batting average, tops in the AL.
Obviously, Napoli's ridiculous last few months have been a big reason. Going into Sunday's game, Napoli was hitting .320 thanks to the best September batting average in the majors: .463 (25-for-54). He is batting .382 with 18 doubles, 16 homers and 43 RBIs since being activated off the disabled list July 4. Napoli just keeps on hitting.
That's not all he's doing well. He sure can call a nice game as his 3.19 catcher's ERA heading into Sunday proves. So why change things? Napoli has been one of the club's biggest surprises, coming over from Toronto in a trade for Frank Francisco. As one of the many ripple effects of Tommy Hunter's groin injury, Napoli became the No. 2 catcher right as spring training ended when the Rangers dealt Treanor to Kansas City so they could keep an extra reliever.
Napoli's playing time has steadily increased as he's hit the ball well as the DH, first baseman and catcher. But does that mean Torrealba won't be behind the plate in the playoffs at all? No. Manager Ron Washington has played both at catcher to help ease the wear and tear on them in the Texas heat. That system has worked well and he may decide to get Torrealba a game or two each series to keep that going.
No doubt, though, Napoli has established himself as someone who must be in the lineup, whether that's catching, first base or DH. And until Sunday's two-homer game, Torrealba had struggled at the plate in his last two week's worth of games, which may impact how much Washington uses him.
As for Treanor, the club likely won't carry three catchers on the postseason roster. You only get 25 spots and Washington will want as many options off the bench and in the bullpen as he can get. That leaves Treanor on the outside looking in, barring an injury.
No matter how it all plays out, catching has become a strength for the Rangers in 2011. They'll need those catchers to navigate the staff through the playoffs.