The Cleveland Indians announced a deal with Edwin Encarnacion last night, likely ending Mike Napoli’s tenure in Cleveland after just one season.
The hype in Cleveland is real.
Edwin Encarnacion is set to join a Cleveland Indians team that was one win away from a World Series title in 2016, making the Indians the early favorites to win the American League. Well, they are the favorites to us.
The signing is exciting, but it likely means Mike Napoli won’t be returning for a second season. While Encarnacion is an upgrade on the field, Napoli was a leader off of it as well.
But Napoli’s leadership surely rubbed off on other players on this Indians team, who will be able to keep the good vibes going in 2017.
Napoli had a career-year for the Indians, hitting 34 home runs and driving in 101 runs, while mustering a solid .800 OPS. His moonshot home runs left fans in awe all season, while his lighthearted attitude made him an instant favorite in 2016.
But Napoli may be remembered most for the “Party at Napoli’s” craze. It was a fun saying to get behind, and the sale of the shirts donning the phrase benefitted a great cause, only making Napoli’s name that much more respected in Cleveland.
But baseball is ultimately a business, and when the opportunity arose to sign Encarnacion, it could not be passed up. And with Napoli looking for a multi-year deal, the choice was easy for the Indians.
Napoli had a great regular season, but his bat was not a factor when it mattered most, as he only managed to have four hits in the World Series, with none of them being home runs. He only drove in three runs all postseason, while striking out 21 times. Pointing this out isn’t done to pile negativity on Napoli’s season, but it was surely brought up when deciding between he and Encarnacion.
Indians fans will not forget Napoli’s one season in town, but it is a shame the team couldn’t win it all with him on the roster. The legend of “Party at Napoli’s” would have been more than just a fond memory, it would have been an iconic phrase.
But a new season ushers in new opportunities for players to step up and become leaders on and off the field. Napoli will be missed, but the signing of Encarnacion gives fans a new power bat to rally around. Someone just needs to come up with a catchy saying.