Brewers: Omar Narvaez’s Hot Start Comes in a Key Season
By Josh Waldoch
While lots of discourse over the Brewers lineup has happened, Omar Narvaez is having a very strong start to the 2022 season.
Through the first two months of the season, Omar Narvaez has been a steady bat for the Brewers. Entering play on Wednesday, Narvaez is slashing .275/.368/.422 with what would be a career high wOBA of .350, and career high wRC+ of 123.
The wRC+ leads the team among batters with 100 PA, and his 1.1 fWAR is second to only Willy Adames, who has 1.2 fWAR, who also plays an important defensive position.
The Brewers backstop is once again off to a hot start to the season. With free agency looming, this hot start is coming at the right time.
Despite the strong showing for Narvaez, his underlying metrics continue to be a puzzling mystery. Throughout his career Narvaez has produced strong offensive output for a catcher despite poor Statcast metrics. He currently is in the third percentile for Hard Hit%, 25th percentile for Barrel%, and 17th percentile for xSLG.
Despite less than stellar underlying numbers, he has the 4th highest wRC+ among all catchers in Major League Baseball.
In addition to offensive value, Narvaez is providing the Brewers with positive defensive value. Narvaez has been able to accumulate one Catcher Framing Run this season, and has a strike rate of 47.7.
The start might harken back memories of last season where Narvaez made the All-Star game and had a 133 wRC+ in the first half before drastically cooling off and recording a 57 wRC+ in the second half.
Throughout his career, Narvaez has a career 114 wRC+ in the first half, and a 98 in the second half of the season, so a cool down may need to be anticipated for this season.
Narvaez providing positive value on offense and defense for the Brewers is great for the team, and for himself, as he is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. When he files, he will join a strong catching class of Willson Contreras, Gary Sanchez, and Christian Vazquez.
Among those four, Narvaez and Vazquez are the only two who currently have positive offensive and defensive value, making Narvaez a desirable target for teams who are looking for offensive production, and good pitch framing.
In typical Brewer fashion, there has not been any indication if Narvaez will be back next year or not; however, regardless if he is back next season or not, the hot start has been a key part of the Brewers start to the 2022 season.