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Giants: Was Donovan Solano baseball’s best utility infielder in 2019?

DENVER, COLORADO - AUGUST 04: Donovan Solano #7 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 04, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - AUGUST 04: Donovan Solano #7 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 04, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco Giants
DENVER, COLORADO – AUGUST 04: Donovan Solano #7 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 04, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Donovan Solano thrived as the San Francisco Giants utility infielder in 2019. Was he baseball’s best in that role?

The San Francisco Giants found a diamond in the rough when they signed Donovan Solano to a minor league deal on January 24, 2019.

Little was expected of the journeyman at the time, especially considering he had not seen action at the MLB level since the 2016 season.

When fellow minor league free-agent signing Yangervis Solarte broke camp with the utility infield job, Solano reported to Triple-A Sacramento. He wouldn’t be there for long.

After hitting .322/.392/.437 over 97 plate appearances in 24 games, Solano was called up to replace Solarte on the MLB roster when he was designated for assignment on May 7.

The 31-year-old Solano saw limited action early on, going 4-for-24 (.167 BA) in five starts and seven pinch-hit appearances during the month of May.

However, a pair of multi-hit games in early June opened some eyes and his playing time steadily increased as the season progressed.

When the dust settled on the 2019 season, he had appeared in 81 games and tallied 228 plate appearances, hitting a robust .330/.360/.456 with 18 extra-base hits along the way.

Aside from his unexpected offensive contributions, he was an above-average defender at second base (251 INN, 2 DRS, 9.2 UZR/150) and a competent option at shortstop (144 INN, -1 DRS, -0.3 UZR/150).

All of that added up to 1.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to Baseball Reference, which was good for sixth among all San Francisco Giants players, trailing only Jeff Samardzija (2.9), Mike Yastrzemski (2.8), Madison Bumgarner (2.8), Evan Longoria (2.4) and Will Smith (2.2).

Was that good enough to make him the best utility infielder in baseball?

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