The question we set out to answer was an easy one. Was San Francisco Giants veteran Donovan Solano the best utility infielder in baseball in 2019?
The first step in answering it was to narrow the field of candidates with some basic parameters.
So in order to be eligible for consideration, a player needed to fulfill the following criteria:
- More than 100 plate appearances: While utility infielders are usually part-time players, we needed a large enough sample size to properly judge their performance.
- Fewer than 400 plate appearances: Any player tallying more than 400 plate appearances has reached the level of super-utility player, which is essentially an everyday role spread out over multiple positions, so that’s a different category of player.
- Played multiple games at 2B and SS: The idea of a utility infielder is generally to serve as the backup to both middle infield spots, so to be eligible, a player needed to have lined up at both second base and shortstop in 2019.
Those three stipulations gave us a list of 43 players.
From that group, only 12 players produced at least 1.0 WAR in 2019, and that’s who we’ll focus on going forward.
Here’s who we’ll be taking a closer look at:
- David Bote, CHC—2.0 WAR
- Luis Arraez, MIN—1.8 WAR
- Chad Pinder, OAK—1.7 WAR
- Donovan Solano, SF—1.6 WAR
- Brad Miller, CLE/PHI—1.5 WAR
- Greg Garcia, SD—1.4 WAR
- Aledmys Diaz, HOU—1.4 WAR
- Mike Freeman, CLE—1.3 WAR
- Myles Straw, HOU—1.1 WAR
- Ehire Adrianza, MIN—1.1 WAR
- Brock Holt, BOS—1.0 WAR
- Luis Urias, SD—1.0 WAR
Which of these players deserves the title of baseball’s best utility player?
Let’s dig a bit further.