Yangervis Solarte Has Been Better Than Expected at Short

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

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Yangervis Solarte has been with the Padres since he came over at the 2014 trade deadline from the Yankees.

In that time, he has hit a respectable .272, averaging 14 home runs per season. He also has a 107 OPS+ in his time in San Diego.

Solarte has been a welcome veteran presence in this clubhouse this season, and is now 30 years old. Up to this point, he had only played eight of his 491 big league games at shortstop. He had virtually no history there.

This season, he has played 16 games at that critical position. Many thought, as I did, that this was not a good idea. Solarte is certainly not the fastest guy on the team; nor does he have the flashiest glove or strongest arm. What he does have is experience and maturity. He also enjoys the challenge of playing the position.

In 16 games at shortstop so far, he has posted a +1 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). That is better than the likes of Francisco Lindor and Freddy Galvis at the same position. His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is 1.3, which is above average (it is scored much like DRS). This number surpasses guys like Elvis Andrus, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa.

I understand it is a very small sample size (16 games, 110 innings). However, not only are his defensive metrics surprisingly positive, but he has also made his share of highlight-reel plays already. Just as I was writing this up, he made a fantastic play, diving to his right and throwing out a runner in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s win over the Giants. Watch the clip of this diving grab below. Is he the Padres shortstop for the next five-plus years? No. Probably not.

That title hopefully belongs to either Fernando Tatis Jr. or Julio Urias. However, he is what the Padres need at shortstop currently.

It is important to note that as Solarte takes reps at shortstop, he is allowing the Padres to get good, long, consistent looks at Carlos Asuaje and Cory Spangenberg at second and third base respectively. Both players will likely hold their spot to start next season (barring a trade). Solarte is allowing both young infielders to potentially build up value and gain confidence. Solarte’s value goes way beyond WAR, DRS or OPS+. He brings a ton to the table.

Yangervis Solarte is certainly worth keeping in the lineup throughout the rest of the season at shortstop. He is a homer shy of tying his career high. Dusty Coleman was recently sent back down to Triple-A. He was slightly better defensively than Solarte, but his bat is not nearly the threat that Solarte’s presents. Coleman will be up in September, but Yangervis should keep playing the position.

If the 2017 San Diego Padres have a “heart and soul,” it’s Yangervis Solarte.

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