BRENT STECKER

Mariners are guaranteed an All-Star, and Omar Narváez is the front-runner

May 23, 2019, 11:01 PM
omar narvaez, mariners...
Mariners catcher Omar Narváez has nine home runs this season. (AP)
(AP)

Things hasn’t been very rosy for the Mariners after their 13-2 start to 2019, such as the baseball season can be with its tendency for regression to the mean. But if you want to look for some bright spots, they’re really not all that hard to find.

Drayer: How are Mariners’ young players at the MLB level developing?

The story of Daniel Vogelbach in his first full season in the big leagues, for instance, is an easy one. Or what about Edwin Encarnación? The veteran slugger is continuing to slug (and leap) his way into Mariners fans’ hearts – and in the process potentially making the money that remains on his hefty contract more palatable to contending teams that might decide to part with some prospects to acquire him from Seattle before the MLB trade deadline.

But who we’re really here to talk about is catcher Omar Narváez. From Day 1 of the season, Narváez has been one of the most consistent players at the plate for the M’s, which is quite the turnaround from what Seattle fans became used to with the Mariners’ previous starting catcher, the powerful but streaky Mike Zunino. Of course the inverse could be said about how Narváez compares to Zunino defensively, as the former is very much a work in progress behind the plate whereas Zunino is regarded as one of the best at his position.

Even with the defensive shortcomings of Narváez, there’s a lot to like about what he’s shown after coming to the Mariners from the White Sox in a trade for one-time All-Star reliever Alex Colomé. His .307 average in 41 games leads the M’s, while his .377 on-base percentage ranks second on the team. Perhaps the most eye-popping stat is his eight home runs, which is just one short of the career-high he set in 97 games last season with Chicago.

And then there’s when you compare Narváez’s offensive numbers to the other catchers in baseball. His .307 average and .888 OPS is second only behind the Cubs’ Willson Contreras (.310, 1.104) among catchers with over 30 games played, and his eight homers ranks fifth among backstops.

The Mariners aren’t likely to have many All-Stars at this year’s midsummer classic, but like every team, they’re guaranteed at least one player going to Cleveland for the All-Star Game. And as it stands now, Narváez is the front-runner.

Here’s a look at what a few notable baseball names said about Narváez on 710 ESPN Seattle’s airwaves on Thursday.

Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle

“You want a big positive (about the Mariners)? Omar Narváez has been a huge positive. He’s got the look of a catcher that can be your guy for years to come. And it’s not just what he’s doing right now but the improvements he’s making. If you looked at this roster right now, who would your All-Star be? It would probably be him.”

Quote taken from Drayer’s daily segment with John Clayton (listen)

Jon Morosi, MLB reporter for MLB Network and FOX

“He’s not necessarily as young as you might think he is, he’s in his age 27 season, but when you have a left-handed-hitting catcher who’s batting .307 with eight home runs at this stage in the season, that’s basically an All-Star. It would not surprise me if he’s a member of this club as an All-Star in July in Cleveland.”

Quote taken from Morosi’s biweekly interview with Brock and Salk (listen)

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto

“I think he’s done a very nice job calling the game, especially considering that we have run so many new pitchers through, especially in the bullpen, and forced him not just to get to know a new organization and work on a lot of the defensive nuances we’re asking him to pick up, but we’re asking him to do it while he learns a disproportionately new variety of pitchers. I think he’s done a remarkable job. I love the way he’s swung the bat. That’s been a nice development for us for sure.”

Quote taken from the Jerry Dipoto Show on Danny, Dave and Moore (listen)

O’Flaherty: Why M’s latest addition should benefit from change of scenery

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Mariners are guaranteed an All-Star, and Omar Narváez is the front-runner