The NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers followed up a successful regular season by suffering a disappointing first round playoff exit against the eventual World Series Champion Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
However, before we completely turn the page on 2021, it’s time to hand out individual grades for the season – this time for the Brewers catching tandem.
.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.
.189 batting average, 13 Home-Runs, 33 RBI, .732 OPS
The pineapple had a really rough start to the season, primarily because of his inconsistent playing time. Omar Narváez bat made it hard to keep him out of the lineup, so opportunity for Manny was hard to come by.
However, Manny did what Manny does, and threw out 38% of runners attempting steals in 2021. His defense was fantastic as always.
Manny Piña recorded a strong second half with the bat, finishing with 13 home runs (career high) and a .732 OPS in just 208 plate appearances (52 starts). He was once again a fantastic defensive catcher, which is all you can ask from your backup catcher, the added pop was just a bonus. Don’t be surprised if Piña is a wanted commodity on the free agent market.
The Brewers had a solid catching duo in 2021, but with Pina hitting the free agent market this winter and Omar Narvaez heading into his last year of free agency, this group could see some changes in the near future.