Batter’s Box: The Solarte of Hitting

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you leftover metal hoodads, you make fidget spinners. And if you’re Yangervis Solarte, when life gives you a doubleheader you go 8-10, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, BB and raise your average from .238 to .287 in a single day.

Yesterday’s absurd performance was a continuation of what has been an incredible year for Solarte, as he now has nine home runs on the year already after hitting 18 all of last year. While his 15 degree launch angle is encouraging, and his 7.4% value hit rate is a career-high, there a couple red flags in his profile that point to future regression. His xStats triple slash is .242/.334/.423 with a 4.4 xHR, and he’s sporting a very bad 24% poor hit rate. That said, he’s still making contact at an above-average 81.4% clip, and there’s no reason he can’t reach 20 home runs this year while hitting for an average in the .270 range and giving fantasy teams plenty of positional flexibility with his shortstop, second base, and third base eligibility.

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians): 3-8, 5 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, SB – Solarte wasn’t the only squat, troll-bodied guy getting in on the action yesterday. Jose Ramirez hit his eighth home run of the year, and is batting .344 over his last 15 games. Ramirez has an 18.6% HR/FB despite making just 30.8% hard contact, a 3% drop from last year. I wouldn’t expect the power output to continue, but he’s hitting .277 despite a .253 BABIP so expect the multi-hit games to keep on coming.

Logan Morrison (1B/DH, Minnesota Twins): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI – I almost wrote “LoMo hit a home-o,” but fortunately I realized how that sounded and stopped myself. But then I wrote it just now when telling you about it, so is that really any better? Let’s move on. After an incredibly slow start to the year, Morrison is hitting .360 over his past seven games with two homers. His contact rate has actually improved from last year, and his batted profile is about the same, but he’s been hitting into some bad luck with a .206 BABIP so far.

Leonys Martin (OF, Detroit Tigers): 3-4, 2 R, BB – So Martin’s .284/.345/.477 slash is impressive and all, but where are the stolen bases. What have you done with the stolen bases, Leonys? Tell us where they are, you monster.

Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves): 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB – Markakis is hitting .429 over his past seven games and has played no small part in the offensive juggernaut that is the Atlanta Braves.

Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians): 5-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI – The hard contact rate is up to 39.3%, the third year in a row it’s risen, and he’s hitting more line drives as well. This Lindor guy is pretty good, highly recommend picking him up if he’s sitting on the wire.

Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, RBI – It’s been a bit of a slow start to the year for Upton, but he tends to run hot and cold, and hopefully last night signals the beginning of one of his patented hot streaks.

Alex Gordon (OF, Kansas City Royals): 3-4, 2 R, HR, RBI – Alex Gordon seems to have remembered that he’s a baseball player over the past week, as he’s hitting .429 with two homers over that time period. He’s making 40.7% hard contact, which would be a career-high, though his 50% groundball rate will likely limit any future power contributions.

Erik Gonzalez (2B, Cleveland Indians): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI – I snuck this blurb in just to test whether you’ve been reading them all. Erik Gonzalez isn’t a real player, I totally made him up. Wait, he is a real player? Did I just think him into existence?

Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH, Cleveland Indians): 3-5, R, 3 RBI, BB – Well he’s certainly doing his best to make up for a very slow start, hitting .300 over the past week with four homers. The 28% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate still worry me though, and I’d probably recommend shopping him now that he’s hot while you can get close to full value.

Lucas Duda (1B, Kansas City Royals): 3-4, 4 RBI – It’s been a disappointing year so far for Duda, but hopefully last night gets things moving in the right direction for him, as he’s been struggling with making contact. He also struggles with throwing the baseball to home plate during the World Series, DON’T YOU, DUDA?!

Josh Donaldson (3B, Toronto Blue Jays): 4-11, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI – Is this what it feels like when somebody brings the rain? I still have no idea what that phrase means, and am starting to wonder if I’m just not in with the youth anymore. Donaldson’s first game back from a shoulder-related DL stint couldn’t have gone any better, and likely quelled any concerns about lingering effects of the injury.

Dee Gordon (2B/OF, Seattle Mariners): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 SB – So far this year Gordon is hitting .355 with 14 steals. #JustDeeGordonThings

Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers): 2-5, R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI – Mazara’s contact rates are about league average, and his hard contact is up to 36%, but his penchant for hitting the ball on the ground may prevent him from reaching the 30-homer plateau most people hoped he would get to this year.

Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI – Due to Mookie’s incredible start to the season, Rob Manfred is considering adding an automatic home run option for pitchers so that when Betts comes to the plate they can just tack runs onto the board and send him back to the dugout. Betts is hitting .440 with six (!!!) homers over his past seven games.

Ronald Acuna (OF, Atlanta Braves): 3-5, R, HR, RBI – I hereby accuse Ronald Thump, President of the United Tates, with crushin’ collusion. Acuna is sporting a 93 mph average exit velocity and 17 degree launch angle so far, both stats that are in the sweet spot for power output. His 12% whiff rate and 75% contact rate so far is not untenable, and is actually very encouraging for a guy I thought might struggle with major league pitching in the early going.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer and content manager with Pitcher List, and co-host of the On the Barrel podcast. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

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Comments


Jonathan Metzelaar

I’m mildly interested, if for no other reason than they don’t really have anybody who will challenge him for playing time, and the Braves now have a very deep lineup that should give him a decent amount of RBI opportunities. His contact rates last year were about league average, but he struggled REALLY badly against fastballs. If he still can’t catch up to fastballs this year, he’s likely done, so that’s what I’d watch for in the first couple weeks. Ultimately see him as like a .240 hitter who could pop 30 homers? Worth a flier, but not vintage Bautista.

John

Shouldn’t Leonys Martin’s slash line be .284/.345/.477? An .822 slugging percentage would be pretty incredible haha.

Joe

Who could be a good starting pitcher to reach for in a return trade for Encarnacion?

Barry

Great stuff Jonathan. I’m struggling at SS. I drafted Marwin and had him there because of his positional flexibility, however with his extremely slow start I picked up and plugged in Semien for a couple of weeks. Peraza is available. Your thoughts on whether Peraza is finally demonstrating an ability to keep doing what he is doing now with a lot higher upside for stolen bases. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Hey Barry, thanks for reading. I think last year was close to what Peraza’s floor looks like (270 AVG with ~30 SB and no power). I think his ceiling is Dee Gordon (290 AVG with 50+ SB). A big thing holding him back has been his spot in the lineup and his infield flyballs. This year he’s hitting towards the top of the lineup, and has cut way down on the infield pop-ups. If those things stay the same the whole year, I think he can reach his ceiling.

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