Omar Renan Moreno Quintero
(The Antelope; The Outmaker)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 180 lb.
- Debut September 6, 1975
- Final Game October 5, 1986
- Born October 24, 1952 in Puerto Armuelles, Chiriquí, Panama
Speedy centerfielder Omar Moreno spent 18 years in professional baseball, a majority with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and set the Pirates record for steals in a season three times.
After being scouted by Howie Haak, who signed Moreno as an international free agent, Omar broke into pro ball at age 16 with the GCL Pirates, hitting .290/~.323/.360 in 25 games and going five for five in steals. He struck out 26 times in 62 AB, posting a .500 average when he made contact. The Pirates were activ in scouting Panamanian players at the time, a strategy that brought on other good players such as Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett and Ed Acosta. In 1970, Omar spent most of the year with the GCL Tourists and hit .233/~.273/.315 with 9 SB in 10 tries and he also went 4 for 23 with the Niagara Falls Pirates. Returning for a third year in rookie ball, Omar batted .327/~.398/.416 for the GCL Pirates and made the Gulf Coast League All-Star team. He played for Marlboro in the Panamanian Winter League in 1971.
In 1972, Omar hit .290/~.368/.402 for Niagara Falls and swiped 31 in 37 tries. He scored 52 runs in 68 games, was 7th in the New York-Penn League in average and made the All-Star team. He also played for the Gastonia Pirates, batting only .215/~.302/.299 and stealing 8 of 10 in 51 games. At age 20 in 1973, he spent most of the year with the Salem Pirates and hit .284/~.386/.406. He drew 85 walks, scored 112 runs (most in the Carolina League), struck out 132 times and stole 77 bases in 88 tries. He was 9th in the league in batting average, tied for 4th with 85 walks and tied for third with 8 triples. He made the league All-Star team once again. The steal total is listed by one poster as having broken the league record, but since then it has broken. He also made his AAA debut with the Charleston Charlies, going 4 for 12 with a triple and home run.
Moreno spent most of 1974 with the Thetford Mines Pirates, batting a solid .300/~.412/.418, scoring 88 runs, drawing 77 walks and stealing 67 in 85 tries. He led the Eastern League in steals, was fifth in average and made the All-Star team in the outfield alongside Warren Cromartie and Joe Simpson. He also hit .220/~.311/.286 in 23 games with Charleston.
The 1975 season was spent with the Charlies, where Moreno had 328 putouts to lead International League flyhawks. He hit .284/~.361/.398 and stole 39 in 47 tries. Dave Parker, Richie Zisk and Al Oliver roamed the outfield in Pittsburgh so Moreno played little in his September call-up, going 1 for 6 in his major-league debut. He was with the Navegantes del Magallanes in the 1975 winter season.
In 1976, Moreno thus returned to Charleston again for a .315/~.415/.418 line with 55 swipes in 64 tries. He was second in steals to teammate Miguel Dilone (61) but was caught 12 fewer times than Miguel. Omar was 8th in the IL in average and made the league All-Star team, joining Dilone and Terry Whitfield in the outfield. He hit .270/.357/.369 in 48 games for the major league Pirates.
For the Pirates in 1977, Omar hit .240/.295/.358 with 53 steals in 69 tries, finishing fourth in the National League in stolen bases. He played in the Dominican Winter League that year and would return annually through 1984; he would appear on the league champs three times - 1978, 1979 and 1981.
In 1978, Omar tied Billy Sunday's 90-year-old franchise record for steals with 71. He led the National League in steals, was fifth in runs and 8th in walks. Despite his impressive walk total, he only had a 79 OPS+ as he hit .235 and slugged .303; his OBP was still above league average. Oddly, his walk rate took a nosedive, getting worse as his career progressed while players usually improve in this area as they age (Cal Ripken Jr. was another player to lose plate discipline through the years).
For the Pirates in 1979, Omar hit .282/.333/.381, one of only two seasons he topped .250 as a MLB regular. He stole 77, breaking the record he shared with Sunday, and scored 110. Only Garry Templeton had more triples than his 12 and only Keith Hernandez scored more times; Moreno led the NL in steals and got the only MVP votes of his career. His 91 OPS+ was fine for a center fielder, especially one with his speed, and was the best mark he had as a regular in that area. He hit .333/.353/.394 in the 1979 World Series to help Pittsburgh to victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
In 1980, Moreno increased his team steal record by taking 96 bases; he was caught 33 times, though. He tied Rodney Scott for the 1980 NL lead with 13 triples and was one steal behind league leader Ron LeFlore. LeFlore was injured at the end of that season and couldn't bat, but he managed to grab enough steals as a pinch-runner to nip Moreno on the season's final day. Omar only hit .249/.306/.325 and set a MLB record with 560 outs.
Omar improved to .276/.319/.362 for another decent year in 1981 and swiped 39 in 53 tries to end his run of team steal record years. In the strike-shortened year, he was second in the NL in steals (behind Tim Raines) and strikeouts (76). He returned to the top of the out leader board in 1982 with a .245/.292/.315 line out of the leadoff spot and 26 times caught in 88 steal attempts. He was second in the NL with 9 triples and third in stolen bases. This was his last season in Pittsburgh.
After 14 years in the Bucs system, Moreno left as a free agent to sign with the Houston Astros in 1983, hitting .242/.282/.326 with 30 steals in 43 attempts and 11 triples, two shy of league leader Brett Butler. He was traded on August 10th to the New York Yankees in return for Jerry Mumphrey, and hit .250/.288/.342 in 48 games in New York.
In 1984, he batted .259/.294/.361 for the Yanks while only taking 20 thefts in 31 tries. He split the next year between the Yanks (.197/.209/.333 in 34 games) and the World Series-winning Kansas City Royals (.243/.280/.429 in 24 games); he did not play in the postseason for KC. He had signed with the Royals as a free agent for the stretch drive on September 3rd, after being let go by New York. He played for Tiburones de La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League in 1985 and the club won the pennant after a mediocre regular season.
Becoming a free agent once more, he joined the Atlanta Braves in 1986 and batted .234/.276/.351 with 17 steals in 33 tries to conclude his career with a .252/.306/.343 batting line (a 79 OPS+) and 487 steals in 669 attempts. In the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, he was listed as one of the 10 least frequent players to ground into double players for periods for which data is available. He was 39th all-time in steals in Major League Baseball through the 2006 season.
In 1989, he played for the Bradenton Explorers of the Senior Professional Baseball Association and hit .258 in 24 games with the club. In 1990 he played for the Daytona Beach Explorers of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He played in 20 games and was batting .217 when the league folded.
He was an outfield/Base-running Instructor for the 1996 Medicine Hat Blue Jays. Moreno later worked for the Panamanian national team for the 1999 Pan-American Games, managed Los Macheteros de Azuero in the Panamanian Winter League in 2001-02 (guiding them to a 16-25 finish, last in the four-team league, despite the top two contact hitters, Olmedo Saenz and Carlos Lee). He was selected as Assistant Manager for the 2002 Probeis All-Star Game.
He was manager of the Panamanian National Team for the 2003 Baseball World Cup, where they won a Silver Medal. One of his players that year was his son Omar Moreno Jr. He coached first base briefly for the Pirates in 2018, when Kimera Bartee was on bereavement leave.
- 2-time NL At Bats Leader (1979 & 1980)
- NL Triples Leader (1980)
- 2-time NL Stolen Bases Leader (1978 & 1979)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1979)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 5 (1977-1980 & 1982)
- Won a World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979
- Outs, season, 560, 1980
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