Jun
05

Do you buy Yangervis Solarte yet?

By
Solarte Swings

Love Solarte’s full-effort swings. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

We all want to believe his emergence is real. He’s had 200 plate appearances. He has slumped and made us think that the spell was broken. Just when we think it’s over, he comes back and starts hitting again.

Where would the Yankees be without Yangervis Solarte?

Actually, don’t answer that. We read your comments and your tweets. The answer would only depress us.

Much joy as his early season performance has brought, Solarte has a long way to go before he proves he’s for real. History just isn’t on his side. Players typically don’t debut at age 26 and hit like borderline stars.

Hell, players don’t debut at age 26 and even qualify for the batting title. Only 44 have done it since 1901, and three quarters of them did it before 1950. Of those, only seven of them did so in what is termed the Expansion Era (1973 to present).

Even of those seven, two were Cuban defectors: Yoenis Cespedes and Alexei Ramirez. No, they didn’t have MLB experience before their age-26 seasons, but they also weren’t prospects who toiled in mediocrity before suddenly breaking out.

That leaves us with just four decent comparisons to Solarte (Rookie of the Year voting finish in parentheses).

Rk Player OPS+ Year Tm G PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB BA OBP SLG
1 Yoenis Cespedes (2nd) 139 2012 OAK 129 540 142 25 5 23 82 43 102 16 .292 .356 .505
2 Yangervis Solarte 129 2014 NYY 53 214 56 12 0 6 26 21 23 0 .298 .366 .457
3 Dan Uggla (3rd) 112 2006 FLA 154 683 172 26 7 27 90 48 123 6 .282 .339 .480
4 Chris Singleton (6th) 105 1999 CHW 133 530 149 31 6 17 72 22 45 20 .300 .328 .490
5 Chris Sabo (1st) 105 1988 CIN 137 582 146 40 2 11 44 29 52 46 .271 .314 .414
6 Alexei Ramirez (2nd) 104 2008 CHW 136 509 139 22 2 21 77 18 61 13 .290 .317 .475
7 David Eckstein (4th) 89 2001 ANA 153 664 166 26 2 4 41 43 60 29 .285 .355 .357
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/5/2014.

Dan Uggla

When I thought of players who debuted at 26 and thrived, Uggla immediately came to mind. It wasn’t long ago at all that the Marlins selected him in the Rule 5 draft, inserted him into the starting lineup, and watched him smash 27 home runs.

Uggla didn’t have a terrible minor league career; it just took him three-plus years to get out of A ball. He actually thrived at AA in 2005, but apparently it wasn’t enough for the Diamondbacks to place him on the 40-man roster.

Solarte could do worse than to emulate Uggla’s career. Sure, he’s toast right now, at age 34, but he had a pretty good run for about six years, hitting .258/.343/.482 (116 OPS+).

David Eckstein

Yes, everyone’s favorite scrappy underdog didn’t debut until age 26. He’d actually hit pretty well throughout his minor league career, but struggled a bit upon hitting AA in 2000. The Red Sox placed him on waivers and the Angels claimed him.

In 2001 he debuted and hit not so great, .285/.355/.357. That might be remarkable in today’s game, but back then it was an 89 OPS+. He did go on to have a few decent seasons after that, including a 101 OPS+ in the Angels’ 2002 championship season.

Chris Singleton

A second round pick in 1993, Singleton struggled early in his minor league career. He didn’t flash even half-decent power until age 23, and didn’t have a good season until age 24. After that good season, the Giants traded him to the Yankees for Charlie Hayes. But he proceeded to have a bad season, so the Yankees traded him to the White Sox for some guy you’ve never heard of.

Singleton broke camp with the Sox in 1999 at age 26 and proceeded to hit .300/.328/.490 and finish sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Singleton would never produce even average numbers again (his slash line was good for a 105 OPS+ in 99).

Chris Sabo

Yes, the goggled dude took a while to incubate in the minors. In fact, he spent two full seasons at AAA before making his debut. He certainly hit well enough to earn it. In his first season he hit .271/.314/414, a 105 OPS+ that earned him the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Two years later he won a World Series.

Sabo had a few good seasons, including a pretty monster 1991 season, but he peaked in his late 20s. As did most of these guys. As do most players, really.

The craziest part about this list: Solarte right now has better numbers than all of them. You’d have to count the Cuban players to find one who put up full-season numbers better than Solarte is currently producing. (Cespedes, obviously.)

At the same time, he probably has the least impressive minor league track record among the five drafted players who debuted at age 26. He certainly spent the longest time down there. Sabo, Eckstein, Singleton, and Uggla all got drafted out of college. Solarte was signed as an amateur free agent at age 17 and debuted stateside at age 19.

Given the thin history of players who debuted at 26, it is still difficult to believe that Solarte can keep up his hot hitting. Not only are there few players who debuted at 26 and qualified for the batting title, but none of them, save for Cuban defectors, hit nearly as well as Solarte.

Still, I want to believe. There has to be some magic about this team. Right?

Categories : Players
  • Yangeddard Soalrte

    Yet? Buddy, I invented this bandwagon. I said a month ago Solarte would be ROY and people laughed at me. Now he’s right in the thick of the race. It would help if the rest of the club would start doing their part and protecting him a bit more.

    I said a month ago he should be in the 2 hole. He’s a much tougher out than 40 year old Jeter. Most pens have a tough righty that will eat Jeter alive, similar to A-Rod in the playoffs 2 years ago. Solarte can work counts, hit for contact and power and he’s a tougher matchup being a switch hitter. Perfect for the 2 hole.

    • BaltimreYankee

      Ed: I think Tanka may have a better shot at ROY than Solarte.

      Everyone else: Sorry for feeding it.

      • http://www.draftstreet.com/register.aspx?r=Jedile Jedile

        Yeah I think Jose Abreu would be before Solarte as well. but Ultimately it will be Tanaka. I’m hoping Tanaka also wins the Cy Young!

  • gbyanks

    I will probably not completely buy into this until this time next year. If solarte is still hitting around 300 with a decent obp and a few dingers 200 at bats into 2015. Then i will be ready to count on him as a everyday player for the next 5 years. Until that happens i will still just wait until the magic stop.

    • 28 this year

      hitting around 300 with decent OBP and a few dingers is a star in today’s lower offensive environment. If he can hit like .250/.330/.400, that would be extremely solid.

      • gbyanks

        Right, But the question is do we believe that solarte is the player hes been showing for 2014. I was just showing what it would take for me to think that solarte is really a 300/360/460 hitter

        • I’m One

          Personnaly, I don’t care if this is true ability level or not (I don’t think he’ll be this good again in his career, for whhat it’s worth), I’m just enjoying what he’s doing now. He’s given the team so much more than what Eduardo Scissorhands would have.

        • 28 this year

          Ok, the count on him as an everyday player for 5 years made me think you were looking for more. He would definitely need to keep this up for more than a season to even begin to think he is this guy we see. You’re right, I misinterpreted what you said.

    • Cheval Anonyme

      He will be a .300 hitter, until he isn’t.

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      Right. He seems to be doing good, I just worry about a big dropoff after the winter off.

  • Frank

    Don’t know how his career will unfold, but this kid knows how to hit. Plus, he has good plate discipline and isn’t at all rattled being on the big stage. I believe once they establish 1 position for him (my preference would be 2B)he will get even better.

  • mitch

    Not much else to feel good about right now, so i’m buying in

    • Yan Solo

      My sentiments exactly; real or not for real he’s still one of the only watchable parts of this team right now. It’s hard to believe, but I’m actually, to an extent, missing the 2013 Yankees right now.

      • mitch

        Sad but true. The 2013 lineup was brutal, but at least the expectations were lower.

        Watching Jeter in the field makes me particularly sad. He just doesn’t have it in him anymore.

        • I’m One

          Watching Jeter in the field makes me particularly sad. He just doesn’t have it in him anymore.

          Agree. Glad this is his last season by his choosing.

  • http://riveravenueblues mississippi doc

    Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon. It happens. Sometimes a player must strike a Faustian bargain with the Devil and in return gets one great year.

  • Alfred

    Bought the jersey.

    I’m from Holland and I was in NYC for a vacation over the weekend. Ofcourse visited the stadium (twice, and both absolutely duds unfortunately…) but I felt good in my Solarte jersey in section 203 on Monday when he was the only Yankee alive out there.

    I’m still not sure if it was the right call over a Tanaka jersey, but man is he fun to watch.

    Ah well, nobody here knows Yankee-players by name (not even Jeter or Rivera) so I at least don’t make a fool of myself should the other shoe drop….

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

      How much was the Solarte jersey? I didn’t see any at YS3 on Friday.

      • Alfred

        Same as all the others, almost 100 dollars. I didn’t buy it at the stadium, but at a shop nearby times square. I think it was Grand Slam, but I’ve seen my fair share of shops with Yankee-stuff over the weekend, so I’m not sure.

  • 28 this year

    The BB/K ratio for Solarte suggests he can handle some adjustments from pitchers without losing his entire productivity.

  • PunkPitch

    Alex Rodriguez is the new Wally Pip, which makes Yango the next Honus Wagner (theoretically).

    • nyguy

      Not sure I get the analogy. Gehrig replaced Pipp, not Honus Wagner.

      • PunkPitch

        Yawn, who’s Gehrig?

  • Mike HC

    Nice write up. You gotta believe.

  • nyguy

    Like most commenters here I want to believe. Right now Solarte is one of the few bright spots in sea of disappointing performances. I agree we need to see him sustain this level of production for an extended period of time but the ‘small sample size’ is getting bigger.

  • TWTR

    If you view him like a stock, I think he is a buy, but you sell calls as a hedge.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      Agreed. average MLB FA salary @ 7MIllion a win, Solarte is currently worth 1.25 seasonal WAR (ranked right under Cano and Rollins) making 500k, arg eligible in 2017, FA in 2020.

    • Cheval Anonyme

      Nah. The guy is at his peak. If we are lucky he will sustain this level, but there’s no growth potential.

  • Mandy Stankiewicz

    I feel like this has been asked a few times on here, but I couldn’t find it:
    What is Solarte’s natural position?
    His very limited SSS shows he has the best numbers at 2B.

    • mitch

      according to Girardi his natural position is 2b

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      2B, but he has had significant time at 3b in his minor league career. I think him and Roberts is much better defensively than him and KJ.

  • Baked McBride

    only reason last year’s team would need six games to beat this year’s team is that Tanaka would pitch twice, the second time on three days rest

  • Roy Munson

    I think Yangervis will be a pretty useful piece for next couple of years. Even if the Yanks re-load the infield this off season which they absolutely should do but probably won’t. I could see YS being a pretty damn good super util guy behind some real star power.

    • I’m One

      I absolutely believe he will be a useful piece, but I don’t yet feel he will be a regular. In an ideal world (my perception), he settles in as an all-around super-sub, getting ~400ABs/year.

      • Cheval Anonyme

        I agree with this. Super-sub.

  • Dan

    I’m not convinced he’s the long term answer at any infield position. But he’s shown enough to convince me he’ll be at least a useful utility man in the big leagues for a long time. That alone makes his minor league signing look genius, and a raise should go to the scout that first saw him.

    • Mike HC

      I would give no credit if he ends up being a useful utility guy. Those guys are a dime a dozen and super easy to find. I’m shooting for average regular and hoping for an all star.

      • mitch

        that really depends on your definition of utility man. Personally, I think a utility man can range from Eduardo Nunez to Ben Zobrist

        • Mike HC

          Zobrist was basically a starter.

          • mitch

            Right….i’d define utility guy as someone who plays multiple positions (regardless of how frequently they actually play). I’m not saying Solarte will become Zobrist, but I think he can more of that type of player, rather than a once a week bench guy.

        • Dan

          Right. I’m thinking more of a guy who can get 300-400 ABs per year, be at least average with the stick (in terms of wRC+), while playing multiple positions.

          There is definitely a lot of value to that type of guy.

          • Mike HC

            I’m now seeing the issue is our definition of “utility guy.” Removing that, we are on the same page. That type of “utility guy” would be a great find.

      • Dan

        They’re not *really* a dime a dozen. Just look to last year’s team–which literally had a dozen utility guys, maybe 1 of who was a legit big leaguer (Nix), and he’s not even in the majors anymore.

        There’s a reason the best utility guys are able to get multi-year contracts.

        • Mike HC

          A good utility man can provide some value over a crappy one, agreed. I just don’t think finding an above average utility guy is something to be handing out genius cards for. If you mean a utility man in the mold of Ben Zobrist, then yes, maybe we are getting closer to genius level. But those type guys are basically starters who are the victim of a logjam.

          • Cheval Anonyme

            There’s no union designation as to who gets to be a “starter” and who is a “utility man”. Solarte looks to be a 1.5-2.5 WAR player in my mind. That’s a marginal starter or a high end sub– which role he fills depends on what the rest of the roster looks like.

  • theyankeewarrior

    We have to buy. Or we should stop watching.

  • hogsmog

    For me, it’s his 23/21 K/BB ratio that makes me cautiously optimistic. This guy has a plan at the plate and will force pitchers to challenge him, and that’s what sets him apart from the Shelley Duncans of the world. If he’s got the eye to lay off junk and the batspeed to catch up to a fastball, I don’t see much reason why he can’t be a solid 2-3 win player going forward.

  • Daniel

    If you don’t believe in Solarte and Tanaka, there is little reason to watch the Yankees play. One of the worst assembled teams I’ve seen in my long years as a Yankees fan. Sad.

    • I’m One

      Obviously you’ve only been watching since the Dynasty Years began.

      • Eric Young

        Thank you for this.

    • hogsmog

      Where were you last year when they were doing about the same, but instead of waiting for stars to regress back to solid production, we were waiting for Overbay, Wells, Youkilis, and Hafner to spontaneously combust?

  • The Great Gonzo

    I think I am buying him as what he is, which is he is what Edurado Nunez was supposed to be:

    A contact oriented super utility guy with a good but not great glove. That said, I think he will eventually cool off (both offensively AND defensively) and make an error or 2 on the field.

    Regardless, he’s a hell of a story and one of the two bright spots in the 2014 season so far.

    • I’m One

      Largely agree, although I suspect he’ll actually settle in defensively, as opposed to what Nunez did.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Color me shocked. He has 5 errors on the season. FOUR of them are throwing.

        Eduardo Nunez only has two this season, albeit in 17 games compared to Solarte’s 65.

        • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

          He has made a lot of good throwing plays though. Some of those are probably being aggressive, but he often has made extra outs.

      • Yan Solo

        Compared to Nunez, Solarte’s a veritable anchor in our defense.
        This scene is what I think of when I think of Nunez on defense… if you ignore the happy ending, of course.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U41nizc0370

        • Cheval Anonyme

          i never ignore a happy ending.

          • Yan Solo

            I knew that using that wording was going to be fodder for jokes, part of the reason why I didn’t word it differently :)

    • Mike HC

      I think we are all remembering when this team had in their primes Jeter, ARod and Cano, where we wanted every infielder we had to be these great utility players. Those days are done now though. These guys are going to be starters for us. We are seeing how the other half lives.

  • pepes pizza

    Due to the fact that he obviously has great plate discipline, hits the ball consistantly hard, has great line drive rates and his babip is not extremely high i believe that this is the starting 2b for the next 4 or 5 years. I am absolutely on the bandwagon and will go out on a limb here and say he should be batting in the 2 or 3 hole. I would put him in the 2 in between Gardner and Ells personally.

    • Kosmo

      BTW Pepes is the best pizza I ever ate.

      • pepes pizza

        pepes is very good but if in Ct again go to Tony Z,s in Northford and either order the sausage (my favorite) or the white clam. They shuck the clams fresh when you order. Best Pizza anywhere.

        • Kosmo

          thanks for the tip !

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Zuppardi’s in West Haven uses fresh clans as well. Still, nothing beats a piping hot Pepe’s white clam.

          It’s been an embarrassment of pizza riches ever since I became a local.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        You damn right it is.

      • hogsmog

        Haha yes that place is absurdly good. Grew up in Milford, a few towns over. Now I’m living in upstate NY and there’s nothing close to a good slice.

  • Kosmo

    Sizemore was just DFA. Beltran is back. More moves on the way ?

    • pepes pizza

      This make little sense to me.

  • Frank

    Should have designated Soriano instead of Sizemore. Another head scratcher by the Yanks.

  • Tom

    Nope.
    He would suck in the near feature, just like the other guys in Lineup. I really hope i’m wrong but the tragedy looked like inevitable.

  • emac2

    Interesting concept

    Never if you define that as a building block or superstar.

    The first day of the season if you define that as someone who is good enough to play a role on a good team.

  • Derek Jeter

    I like the “kid”. I do see a little Cano in him at the plate(contact wise, hits the ball to all fields), just like when Cano was rookie, however his potential is not nearly as high. I’d like to see the Yankees take a gamble on signing him cheap, but they should at least wait till the All-Star break to see where he’s at. Even if A-Rod comes back next year(doubtful), Solarte most likely will be the best in-house option at third. He is the exact type of player that would fit perfectly on the 96 – 2000 Yankees, just like Brosius, Hayes, Shane Spencer… Hope this continues, the Yankees need some in-house good news.

  • LK

    Solarte has a 9.8% walk rate after 7.2% and 6.8% the last 2 years in AAA. Plate discipline does tend to improve as players age, but I highly doubt he’s going to be as patient going forward as he has been so far.

    He also has a .160 ISO after .118 and .127 the last 2 years in AAA. Power also can develop late, but once again I think it’s unlikely that Solarte can suddenly hit MLB pitchers for more power than he could hit AAA pitchers.

    I’m buying him as a solid contact hitter who can play 2B and 3B and fake SS, which is much more than anyone had a right to expect at the beginning of the year. I still think long-term he’s a backup on a good team though.

    • Cliff

      But isn’t walk rate the fastest stat to stabilize?

  • http://www.draftstreet.com/register.aspx?r=Jedile Jedile

    I have been thinking.. What about Moving Arod to SS next year? This does seem crazy, but hey if he manages 15HR and .250 AVG I see it as a good. This is completely crazy. I feel crazy for typing it.. but?

    (Besides shaving his legs, I hope arod has at least been working out and staying in shape with his time off).

    • http://www.draftstreet.com/register.aspx?r=Jedile Jedile

      I feel so dirty for writing this. But really am just trying to drive a screw with a hammer with this idea. ha aha ha *ow*.

  • Bats

    As long as Solarte is patient at the plate, his hitting will be fine. A patient hitter will wait for his pitch or force it to be thrown and swing at it.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I buy him right now. I make no promises as to whether I’ll buy him in six months, or as anything above UTL next season.

    Where would we be without him? Probably playing Dean Anna or Scott Sizemore to lesser results.

  • Jack P

    What a way to compliment your readers with the “no don’t comment”. I guess that’s why you don’t write on here anymore, you can’t face the music. Go eat a hat.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    I’ll take a large Yangervis with a side of Tanaka.

  • rogue

    If the bar is being better than ARod, then I’m buyin’!

  • qwerty

    Solarte is our Mike Trout.

  • bpdelia

    Point being it’s rare. But not 4 times in the expansion era rare. It happens.

  • bpdelia

    I know arbitrary ages make for easier sorting but…… 26. Why? Is that SIGNIFICANTLY different than a guy who debuted at 25? What if the 25 year old turned 26 the day after he debuted. This really isn’t useful.

    The guy who is a decent comp for usefulness out of nowhere didn’t debut until 27. He then had Very nice career including a couple of all star seasons.

    Melvin Mora.