Omar thinks about his dad when he thinks about his beginning in baseball. "My dad always played baseball,” Narvaez recalled. “He was always taking me to the ballpark and we played every day. I really watched him hit. So that's when I started learning how to hit, how to make quicker decisions,
"My did didn't sign (with a Major League team), but he was supposed to twice. He also took me to play, so he's my hero."
Narvaez grew up in Maracay, Venezuela, which is home to a number of other professional baseball players, including big league stars Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera. Narvaez does not know those two, yet.
During his minor league career, Narvaez has made a lot of friends of teammates. That is very important to him.
"I've gotten a lot of teammates and we’re still friends," he said. "The good part is having a lot of teammates. A lot of good people to be around. That’s helped me a lot.”
His dream is the Majors.
"Just to play at the highest level. That’s really my goal. That would be my dream come true. Playing in the big leagues is what I want to do. And I’ll keep working hard to get there.”
In 2017, Baseball America rated Omar as the 30th-best prospect in the White Sox organization.
2020 Season: The lefty-hitting catcher with an offense-first reputation was acquired by the Brewers last offseason in a trade with the Mariners. And though he held up well defensively, his offense was mostly a disaster, which his unsightly .176/.294/.269 slash line and 39 strikeouts to 16 walks in 40 games showed.
Milwaukee ended up signing Narvaez to a small pay cut just ahead of the non-tender deadline this offseason with the hope that he will bounce back at the plate in 2021. Here are three reasons why that could end up happening.
1. He had some bad luck in 2020. Luck is a hard thing to measure, but for hitters, one of the ways we can at least make an attempt is with the stat Batting Average on Balls in Play (or, BABIP). Often, if a player has a season with a BABIP significantly higher or lower than their career average, there’s a good chance to expect some regression to the mean going forward.
From his first season in 2016 through the end of the 2019 season, Narvaez had a career BABIP of .312. That was a little higher than the MLB average BABIP of .298 over that same time.
In 2020, though, Narvaez had an outlier BABIP season where he saw the number drop all the way down to .254. If this moves even remotely closer to his career number, that means quite a bit more hits for the Milwaukee catcher.
2. He has a better eye at the plate than he showed in 2020. Going into 2020, the numbers showed that Narvaez had one of the better eyes at the plate for a catcher. Among 46 catchers with 400 plate appearances across 2018 and 2019, Narvaez had the 11th highest walk rate (10.6%) and the 11th lowest strikeout rate (19.5%) per Fangraphs.
He also rated well in terms of whiff percentage going into 2020 per Baseball Savant. His 22.9% whiff percentage in the 2019 season put him in the 66th percentile that year.
While Narvaez’s walk rate actually improved a bit in 2020 (12.7%), his strikeout rate (31%) and whiff percentage (29.6%) got quite worse. Assuming he didn’t permanently lose his plate discipline, a return to form here would help get the offense cooking again as well. (Matt Carroll - Jan. 12, 2021)
July 10, 2021: Narváez was added to the NL squad. He joins starting pitchers Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta as well as closer Josh Hader in giving the Brewers five all-stars, tying a franchise record. The quintets have come in consecutive all-star seasons — 2018, 2019 and 2021. (There was no game in 2020.)
Narváez was named as a replacement for Yadier Molina, who withdrew with a foot injury.
2021 Season: .266 batting average, 11 Home-Runs, 49 RBI, .743 OPS
The Milwaukee Brewers have earned a reputation around the major leagues as a club that helps in developing catchers defensively. If you’re looking for evidence, look no further than starting backstop Omar Narváez.
When Narváez was traded to Milwaukee from the Seattle Mariners, he was considered an offensive catcher with little to no defensive ability behind the plate. At this point I think it’s fair to say that is no longer the case.
Narváez took a major step in 2021 defensively, ranking first in pitch framing (10 total runs saved). On top of that, Narváez threw out 22% of base runners on steal attempts. Nobody could have seen this kind of defensive improvement coming, but this development has made the trade with Seattle all the more worth it.
After a forgettable 2020 season Omar Narváez bounced back in a big way in 2021. So much so, he was named to his first ever All-Star team after an impressive first half (.865 first half OPS). His bat seemed to lose it’s luster a bit in the second half (.595 OPS), but still ended up posting an overall respectable .743 OPS on the season. Good season overall for the Brewers starting backstop. ( Dillon Graff - Nov. 5, 2021)
2022 Season: Last season, his OPS from April through July was .688. His OPS in August/September was .365. Assuming his August quad injury caused his late season slump, his hitting could soar next season. (Makakilo Oct 25, 2022)
Narvaez, who turns 31 in February, was a bat-first catcher earlier in his career who appeared to take strides defensively with the Brewers in recent seasons. Since 2020, he's 13th in Defensive Runs Saved (minimum 1,500 innings), according to FanGraphs.
Framing metrics weren't kind to him pre-Milwaukee but he's graded as one of the game's best in that department the last two seasons.
A left-handed hitter, Narvaez posted his lowest career OPS in 2022 but was an All-Star in 2021 (.743 OPS).
July 2008: Narvaez signed with the Rays organization, out of Venezuela, via scout Ronnie Blanco.
December 2013: The White Sox chose Narvaez out of the Rays organization in the Rule 5 Draft.
Nov 30, 2018: The Mariners traded RHP Alex Colome to the White Sox for catcher Omar Narvaez.
Dec. 5, 2019: The Brewers traded RHP Adam Hill and future considerations to the Mariners; acquiring 27-year-old catcher Narváez.
Dec. 2, 2020: The Brewers and Narvaez agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
- Nov. 6, 2022: Narvaez became a free agent.
|Birth City:||Maracay, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2008 - Rays - Free agent - Out of Venezuela|
|2008||-||2015: Career #s||405||1355||163||382||49||7||5||154||16||11||163||143||.358||.339||.279|
Narvaez is a decent hitter. He has a 50 hit tool, but only 30 power on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Omar has a great idea at the plate. His strike zone judgment is excellent. He always posts a solid on-base percentage.
"I kind of learned how to stick to my plan and swing at a lot of strikes," Narvaez said in 2019. "I don't swing at a lot of balls. Building my own confidence and patience at the plate, and trying to execute that plan.
"I'm a line drive hitter, not a slugger. So I always try to drive the ball to the middle, however hard I can. It doesn't matter the count, I always try to stick to the plan and always try to hit the ball up the middle."
When the Mariners acquired Omar in November 2018, they believed they were sacrificing the power of Mike Zunino, who was traded to the Rays, for Narvaez’s excellent on-base percentage of .366 in his three seasons with the White Sox.
But in 2019, Narvaez not only has maintained that OBP at .368, he has unleashed significant punch as well, with 16 home runs and a .504 slugging percentage in his first 80 games. The 16 home runs have already eclipsed the 12 he hit in 221 games with the White Sox, where his slugging percentage was .379.
“That’s probably the one thing that has surprised us the most about his game,” manager Scott Servais said. “I thought he was a guy that would probably hit 10-12 in a good year, which is a good year for a guy catching as much as he is.”
Narvaez says he’s not trying to hit homers, but he certainly isn’t turning them down. “I don’t really try to do too much,” he said. “I’m just trying to hit line drives. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, I’m still hitting line drives.”
“He continues to make adjustments with his swing,” Servais said. “He’s got the ability to get the ball in the air. And when you can pull balls in the air, you’re going to get good results.” (Johns - mlb.com - 7/17/19)
- In 2019, Narváez was Seattle’s most consistent hitter, slashing .278/.353/.460 with 22 home runs. And his weighted runs-created-plus of 119 ranked fourth-best among catchers who made at least 300 plate appearances.
- As of the start of the 2022 season, Narvaez's career Major League stats were: .266 batting average, 47 home runs and 416 hits with 168 RBI in 1,561 at-bats.
Omar is an above-average receiver who can handle a Major League staff. (Spring 2017)
Narvaez has a good arm. In 2017 with the White Sox, Omar threw out 24% of runners, 16 of 67, who tried to steal a base.
- May 25, 2021: The Padres stole six bases against Narvaez and three Brewers' pitchers.
May 1-13, 2021: The Brewers placed catcher Omar Narváez on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain.
June 2-10, 2022: Omar was on the Covid-19 IL.
Aug 4-20, 2022: Omar was on the IL with left quad strain while executing a rundown play against the Pirates on Aug. 3.
Aug 5-19, 2022: Said manager Craig Counsell, "Quad is an injury just have to get comfortable playing with. You can play with some discomfort and it's not going to risk re-injuring, but it slows you down, it's nagging, it's an issue. We'll take 10 days to quiet everything down and then see where he's at."