Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Narváez hopes bat can soon match better D

@AdamMcCalvy
August 25, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- How has Brewers catcher Omar Narváez managed a slow start at the plate? By doing everything possible to remain productive behind it. “I’m one of those persons that always says, ‘If you don’t do anything good on offense, you better do it on defense,’” Narváez said Monday night,

MILWAUKEE -- How has Brewers catcher Omar Narváez managed a slow start at the plate?

By doing everything possible to remain productive behind it.

“I’m one of those persons that always says, ‘If you don’t do anything good on offense, you better do it on defense,’” Narváez said Monday night, after hitting his first Brewers home run in a 4-2 win over the Reds.

Narváez came from Seattle with a reputation as a good hitter with a lot of work to do on defense. Of the 30 MLB catchers who logged at least 300 plate appearances in 2019, Narváez was fourth with a weighted runs created plus of 119 (where league average is 100), just behind former Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal’s 121. Narváez was one of eight catchers to top 20 home runs. At the same time, he fared poorly in pitch-framing metrics, ranking in MLB’s 22nd percentile, according to Statcast.

This year, everything has flipped. Even with four hits in his past two games, including three for extra bases, Narváez entered Tuesday with a .175/.299/.281 slash line. Meanwhile, he has ranked among MLB’s best framers, in the 100th percentile. He also leads all qualified catchers with a 57.9% strike rate, the percentage of non-swings on the edges of the zone converted into called strikes.

“Everything starts from last year in Seattle,” Narváez said. “I kind of didn’t understand everything that they wanted me to do. I think I got to a great place, which is the Brewers. … Everything I did in the quarantine, I was able to speak to Walker [McKinven, the Brewers’ manager of Major League strategy] and [Minor League catching coordinator] Charlie Greene, and they were teaching me from the phone. I never stopped working, and I think it’s paying off.”

As for his hitting, Narváez said he has been watching a lot of video and noticed a leg kick was creeping into his game. He has been working with Brewers hitting coach Andy Haines and assistant hitting coach Jacob Cruz to get back to the swing that made him successful.

“Omar has been a remarkably consistent offensive guy in this league the last three years,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “So, it was going to come. Still, for the player and all of us, it’s just a deep breath and relax a little bit and know it’s there.”

Suter tackles impact of team travel
Even in this strangest of seasons, climate-conscious Brewers reliever Brent Suter is considering ways to help the planet. Next on his list of initiatives: team travel.

Suter has partnered with the American Conservation Coalition Campus (ACC Campus), The Nature Conservancy and Players for the Planet on a program called Sidelining Carbon, which is focused on reducing the climate impact of professional sports team travel. The goal is to offset at least 50% of the carbon footprint associated team travel by 2025.

Suter secured contributions from a number of his teammates to take part, including All-Stars Christian Yelich, Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff, Keston Hiura, Manny Piña, Jedd Gyorko, Justin Smoak, Devin Williams, pitching coach Chris Hook, third-base coach Ed Sedar and president of baseball operations David Stearns.

Here’s how it works: Through an online tool, teams and individuals alike can calculate their carbon footprint and purchase the equivalent amount of carbon credits. Those credits are generated by investments in forest projects across the U.S.

“You’re seeing the role that athletes play on a lot of really important social issues right now, from race and income inequality to climate,” said ACC Campus president (and Appleton, Wis., native) Benji Backer. “The impact Brent has had by being one of the most active advocates in the community is massive. From ocean plastic to climate change, the amount of people who Brent has inspired, and I’ve seen it on social media, is incredible.”

Last call
• The Brewers formally added left-handed pitching prospect Aaron Ashby to the 60-man player pool on Tuesday and assigned him to the alternate training site in Appleton, Wis. The transaction hit the wires several days ago, but it was not official until Ashby passed COVID-19 intake testing.

• As Monday’s Trade Deadline approaches, the Brewers’ stance on listening to offers for Josh Hader has not changed, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. In a column for The Athletic, Rosenthal wrote that the Brewers will listen to offers for Hader, but he quoted a rival executive as saying Milwaukee would only move the lefty for a “bananas price.” Hader, who did not allow a run or a hit in any of his first eight appearances this season, has three years of club control remaining.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.