The first-place Milwaukee Brewers are now 25 games above .500 and one of the five teams in MLB that has more than 70 wins already as we hit the middle of August. The Brewers’ depth is one of their biggest strengths right now.
One could almost argue that they have too much depth. With players returning from the Covid and injured list, there could be several solid players sent back to the minors or hitting the waiver wire. Travis Shaw became the first casualty over the weekend. He hit waivers and was picked up by the Boston Red Sox. There is even a chance that Daniel Vogelbach could be next. He is a solid player and fan favorite, but the team might not have room with Rowdy Tellez, Eduardo Escobar and Jace Peterson all on the roster and playing well for first base.
The catcher position is one that usually isn’t known for the greatest hitters. You will always have your Buster Poseys and Yadier Molinas (barf), but there are rarely teams who have not one but two great catchers on their roster. The Milwaukee Brewers have that with Omar Narvaez and Manny Pina.
The 2021 All-Star is simply having a fantastic year. As of August 16th, he has a .292 batting average, 11 home runs, 39 RBIs and an OPS of .840. Technically he is fourth on the team in batting average, but first for players who have been on the roster the entire season. The other players above him are Willy Adames, Eduardo Escobar and Rowdy Tellez. Tellez has a .333 batting average since joining the team.
Narvaez has also been one of the best offensive catchers all year:
All-Star Omar Narváez enters the day ranked second in the majors as a catcher in AVG (.301), OBP (.387) and OPS (.870) and fifth in SLG (.483). #Brewers
— Mike Vassallo (@MikeVassallo13) August 13, 2021
It’s an incredible comeback for Narvaez after a disappointing 2020 season. Most of his offensive stats were near the bottom of the league. That isn’t the case anymore. An All-Star appearance basically confirms a good season, and his exit velocity on pitches is at an all-time high at 86.2%. He’s absolutely crushing fastballs this year, with a .345 batting average and .609 slugging percentage when being thrown to him.
Omar is having a great year behind the plate as well. According to Baseball Savant, the 29-year-old is third overall in 2021 for Catcher Framing. That means he receives pitches in a way that it makes them look like a strike to the umpire. The only catchers above him right now are Sean Murphy of the Oakland Athletics and Jonah Heim of the Texas Rangers. And who is number 12 on that current list? His teammate Manny Pina of course.
The Brewers have one of the best defensive and pitch framing duos in the MLB right now. Narvaez at three and Pina at 12 is the second-best duo currently. The Rangers have them beat. Heim is ranked second, and their other catcher Jose Trevino is ranked fourth.
The Brewers also rank second for Opponent Caught Stealing per game percentage at 23%, right behind the Los Angeles Dodgers at 25%.
The 34-year-old catcher is sitting with a .168 batting average right now, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He only had one hit in June over 30 at-bats, which dropped his average to .123. He did better in July, but had has a solid August so far. Over his 23 hits this season, nine of them have been for home runs. He also has 25 RBIs over his 137 total at-bats. If you want to compare, Narvaez has had 227 total at-bats. For being a back-up catcher, Pina is one of the best defensive catchers in the game and when he connects at the plate, Pineapple comes up big.
Manny Pina has a higher ISO this season than:
— Jack Stern (@baseball7310) August 12, 2021
The Brewers clubhouse veteran also brings so much to the club when it comes to team chemistry and presence. He helped create the “Tiger Claws” celebration with Willy Adames and is always having fun in the dugout. He is known for singing Hotel California all the time in the clubhouse. During the recent game against the Cubs, he had two home runs and created a lifetime memory for two young kids in the first row.
The only people having a better day than Manny Piña at Wrigley Field are these kids. https://t.co/jJo85Ww9hr
— Sophia Minnaert (@SophiaMinnaert) August 12, 2021
As Playoffs Near
There are lots of things to be excited about when it comes to this Milwaukee Brewers team. An elite pitching staff. An offense that has found its groove. A team that is finally having fun again that is transitioning into wins and better play on the field. Their catchers both playing great is just another cherry on top. If Narvaez and Pina keep up this pace, the Brewers will be hard to stop come October if and when they make the playoffs.