Omar Comin’

Reviewing some of Saturday's best hitting performances

Omar Narváez (MIL): 5-6, 3 R, RBI.

Omar Narváez produced the only five-hit performance around the league last night in Milwaukee’s 11-1 rout of the Pirates, scoring three times despite driving in just one with all those hits. In typical fashion, only one of the 29-year old’s five singles broke a 91 MPH exit velocity, but it made for the first five-hit game of his career and just the ninth around MLB this season. Narváez is quietly enjoying a very strong bounceback from a brutal 2020 season, now ranking third among all big league catchers with 2.7 fWAR and a 136 wRC+.

He’s always been a bit of an enigma, running top-ten offensive numbers for a catcher for most of his career despite never once breaking 86 MPH on his average exit velocity, meaning he spent most of his career outstripping expected statistics before plummeting back to earth last year. At the same time, however, he appeared to evolve from one of the game’s worst framers to one of its best, and while year-to-year numbers can be quite fluky, it appears that Narváez has legitimately turned himself into a serviceable defender, ranking in the 63rd percentile in Outs Above Average and staying above 0 in Defensive Runs Save after posting a horrific -18 in 2019. Now that he’s once again hitting like one of the game’s premier catchers, it might be time to start putting the 29-year old in the conversation for one of the best catchers in the game this side of the J.T. Realmuto/Yasmani Grandal diarchy.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Seth Brown (OAK): 3-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Brown played a huge part in Oakland’s dramatic extra-inning, come-from-behind win over the Red Sox, coming up a homer short of the cycle and driving in runs with every single one of his hits. It was a much-needed break for the latest of the A’s never-ending line of platoon corner righty-mashers, who entered Saturday hitting just .133 over his last 40 games despite expected stats thinking he deserves a bit better. With Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty both on the injured list, Brown should continue to take up a sizeable chunk of Oakland’s corner outfield/first base at-bats, particularly against right-handers.

Rhys Hoskins (PHI): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

Hoskins and Bryce Harper were the Phillies’ offense in their tense, rain-interrupted 4-2 win over the Padres, with Hoskins’ 18th homer of the season tying the game at two before his 17th double gave Philadelphia a crucial late-inning insurance run, though with the state of the Phillies’ bullpen being what it is, ten insurance runs wouldn’t be too many. Hoskins’ power has returned after a down 2020 season, but his typically stellar plate discipline has completely tanked, with his walk rate dipping to a league-average 9% after sitting above 15% for most of the past four seasons. The cause has yet to be determined, but it will be crucial to watch in the coming months; if his walk numbers return to normal, the resurgent power stroke will make him an All-Star caliber first baseman again, but if they don’t he may be running out of time as a productive big leaguer.

Eli White (TEX): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SB.

Ever the breakout candidate thanks to his precocious combination of speed, gap power, and defensive ability, White provided the only combo meal to be found across the league on a sluggish offense night, driving in three and wreaking havoc on the base paths in the Rangers win over the Mariners. With a brutal .335 xwOBACON, contact quality and ability to make contact has been a game-breaker for White so far in his MLB career, though his speed and defense will likely keep him in the majors regardless, and there’s still some hope that a “Myles Straw with a little bit of power” kind of upside is on the table for the 27-year old.

Dominic Smith (NYM): 3-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Smith was the man of the hour in Saturday’s edition of the Subway Series, going 3-5 with a double and three key runs driven in during the Mets’ 8-3 win over their Bronx rivals. Smith opened the scoring with a tough at-bat and run-scoring single off Jordan Montgomery and later sealed the game with a perfectly placed double to the left field corner, continuing to boost his season stat line after a brutal April slump. He’s now run a 120 wRC+ since the start of May; so with a depressed HR/FB rate and contact quality and plate discipline consistent with years past, Smith seems like a good bet to keep producing in the coming months.

Avisaíl García (MIL): 3-6, 2 2B, R, 5 RBI.

Narváez spent most of Saturday setting the table, and García cleared it driving in five runs with a pair of extra-base hits against the lowly Pirates, bringing his RBI total to 51 on the campaign after flopping badly in the first season of the 3-year, $30 million deal he signed in December 2019. Though his overall offensive numbers have been hampered by a bump in strikeouts and decrease in walks, he’s hitting the ball as well as ever, and is racking up counting stats in a suddenly formidable Brewers lineup. His 15 homers are on pace to shatter his previous career-high of 20, and hitting behind OBP fiends Narváez and Christian Yelich, he seems like a very good bet to break his previous career-best in RBI (80) as well.

Jonathan Schoop (DET): 2-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

This is likely exactly what both Schoop and the Tigers had in mind when the slugger returned to Detroit on a one-year deal this offseason, as he’s ensuring with each passing game that he finishes the season playing for a much better team than the one he started with. Schoop blasted his 16th homer of the season in the Tigers’ 11-run effort on Saturday, raising his season average to .283 and landing on the threshold of 50 RBI in the process. Since the start of the 2020 season, the infielder has 24 home runs and a 122 wRC+ and should fetch the ever-rebuilding Tigers a solid young player as a trade return sometime in the coming weeks.

Eric Haase (DET): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.

Haase led the majors with six runs batted in in Detroit’s win over the White Sox, taking advantage of a Billy Hamilton misplay in center field for an inside-the-park home run off Dallas Keuchel before getting his money’s worth on a 100 MPH opposite-field blast to cement the Tigers’ win late in the game. It was his fourth multi-homer game of the 2021 season, joining Fernando Tatís Jr., Cedric Mullins, and Kyle Schwarber as the only hitters in the majors to do so. Haase hit 28 homers over hardly 100 games for Cleveland’s Triple-A team in 2019, and he’s now seventh among MLB catchers with 11 HR despite taking 60 fewer plate appearances than any other with at least 10.

Enrique Hernández (BOS): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Hernández was a bright spot for the Red Sox in their disappointing effort against Oakland, following up his game-saving throw from center field on Friday by going 2-4 with a homer, two walks, and two driven in while playing two different positions. His batting average remains low, but with improved plate discipline this season (8.1% BB rate), Hernandez has been a sparkplug for the powerful Red Sox offense, setting the table for league RBI league Rafael Devers and getting on to the field almost every day with his ability to play multiple positions.

Carlos Correa (HOU): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Correa reached base in every one of his plate appearances on Saturday including his 16th homer of the season, leading the Astros to a tight 3-2 victory over Cleveland in a game in which Cleveland pitchers allowed more walks than hits. With Corey Seager hurt and Trevor Story and Javier Báez slumping, Correa has increasingly looked like the true star of the upcoming free agent class, raising his slash line to an MVP-caliber .300/.401/.534 and giving Fernando Tatís Jr. a run for his money on the WAR leaderboard, now ranking second in the Majors with a 3.9 mark that’s already his highest since 2017.

John Hicks (TEX): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

It was a former Detroit catcher who provided the other multi-homer performance of the night, with Hicks’s two bombs both leaving the bat at 104 MPH and carrying the Rangers to an all-too-rare victory over their division rival Mariners. The 31-year old slashed .242/.287/.403 over four seasons in Detroit from 2016-19 and now has three dingers in three games for Texas since being promoted to Triple-A.

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Zach Hayes

Zach is based in Chicago and contributes analysis and coverage for Pitcher List and South Side Sox. He also co-hosts the Shaggin' Flies podcast with Ben Palmer, and enjoys reading, Justin Fields highlights, and people-watching on the CTA.

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