San Francisco Giants: Donovan Solano providing middle infield boost
By Jeff Young
For the past several seasons, the San Francisco Giants have been light on middle infield depth. However, Donovan Solano’s performance is proving to be part of the solution to this problem.
The 31-year-old is batting .308 with a .735 OPS in 83 plate appearances for the San Francisco Giants this season. He has also been competent with the glove at both shortstop and second base.
Since the start of 2015, the Giants have used Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik as their primary shortstop and second baseman, respectively.
Both Crawford and Panik are left-handed batters, and ideally, any depth option would bat from the right side to create a more balanced roster.
Some of the middle infield depth options in recent seasons include Kelby Tomlinson, Chase d’Arnaud, Eduardo Nunez, and Alen Hanson.
Tomlinson, Nunez, and Hanson struggled to handle either shortstop or second base. d’Arnaud could handle both middle infield positions but struggled to produce offensively.
From that group, only Nunez and Hanson batting from the left side were anywhere close to a league average with the bat.
With Farhan Zaidi on board, the San Francisco Giants have focused their attention on building depth at all position, and the middle infield spots are no exception.
As a result, the Giants made a number of minor additions up the middle that included Breyvic Valera, Hanser Alberto, Yangervis Solarte, and Solano.
Valera, Alberto, and Solarte have since moved on to different teams. However, Zaidi’s preference for versatility has still been evident with these additions.
Solano was part of a large, unheralded group of minor league free-agent additions that were made his past offseason:
While the signing of Solano went mostly unnoticed, he joined the Giants with extensive MLB action, having played in 370 big league games with the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees.
Despite the under-the-radar nature of the signing at the time, Solano has proven to be a nice addition for the Giants, and he should see more playing time as the season progresses.
The 31-year-old’s production does not jump off the page, but he’s been a steady contributor when he does find his way into the lineup. Sometimes, he does something like this:
With Crawford (.615 OPS) and Panik (.721 OPS_ both struggling against left-handed pitching this season, Solano has slowly been carving out a platoon niche. He’s hitting .346 with an .857 OPS in 50 plate appearances against southpaws this season.
If he can sustain that level of production against lefties, there’s a role for him on the team going forward, and he has team control through the 2021 season.
Who knew the San Francisco Giants would be excited with Donovan Solano’s performance when the 2019 season began?