SF Giants Gifts: Donovan Solano Defense
I contemplated asking for continued batted ball luck. Solano has been an incredibly productive offensive player in 2019 and 2020 but relied on a .409 and .396 batting average on balls in play each respective year. Still, even if that regresses substantially, he could be a valuable player if his defense returns to its pre-2020 levels.
Before joining the Giants, Solano had slashed a .257/.306/.331 line in parts of five MLB seasons with the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees as a defense-first utility infielder. Struggling to find a permanent home, he bounced around many organizations before seeming to find another offensive gear. Then, in his early thirties, Solano reemerged as an offensive juggernaut.
While Solano won the Silver Slugger this season, though, he was bad defensively for the first time in his career. For the Giants in 2019, Solano was more than solid defensively, grading above-average at both second base and shortstop by Outs Above Average. However, in 2020, he ranked in the sixth percentile among all infielders. While it was likely a product of many factors, when Evan Longoria began the season on the injured list, Solano was forced into playing more third base than he had in years. His fringe arm caused several errors and seemed to knock him out of sorts all season.
With an offseason to get back in rhythm, Solano should hopefully be ready to return as a strong defender in 2021. The Giants expect Longoria to be healthy to start the season and brought in Jason Vosler, a primary third baseman, which should enable Solano to focus on his best positions: second base and shortstop.