Next up on the San Francisco Giants season reviews, which I’m determined to get through before pitchers and catchers report: second baseman Donovan Solano.
54 games, 203 plate appearances, .326/.365/.463, .828 OPS, 3 home runs, 29 RBI, 10 walks to 39 strikeouts
128 OPS+, 126 wRC+, 1.5 rWAR, 0.9 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Solano was on the active roster all season long.
Can you imagine if I told you before the season that Donovan Solano would represent the Giants as a nominee for the All-MLB team, and win the Silver Slugger award? Heck, can you imagine if I had told you that before last season?
Look at Solano’s rWAR and plate appearances since making his MLB debut:
2012, age 24 season: 0.7 WAR (316 PAs)
2013, age 25 season: 0.1 WAR (395 PAs)
2014, age 26 season: -0.3 WAR (340 PAs)
2015, age 27 season: -0.5 WAR (94 PAs)
2016, age 28 season: 0.0 WAR (23 PAs)
2017, age 29 season: Only played in the Minors
2018, age 30 season: Only played in the Minors
2019, age 31 season: 1.4 WAR (228 PAs)
2020, age 32 season: 1.5 WAR (203 PA)
And yet, despite being one of the team’s best players in each of the last two years, Solano is being taken to arbitration by the Giants over $625,000, which doesn’t sit well with me and probably doesn’t sit well with you, either.
With Mauricio Dubón mostly moving to center field in 2020, Solano earned the bulk of the starts at second base. And all I can say in assessing his work there is ... it’s a good thing he was such a stud on offense.
A stud he was. Solano sprayed hits all over the field, even having a 17-game hitting streak early in the season. He was reliable, consistent, and seemed to come up biggest when the Giants needed him most.
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. He just kept hitting, and kept hitting, and kept hitting, and made it look like a ton of fun in the process.
Role in 2021
Despite being the only Giant to head to arbitration, Solano should be highly valued by the organization. With that said, it’s fair to wonder what his role is going forward. Solano and Wilmer Flores will both be on the Giants next year, and both players are right-handed infielders who play poor defense.
That wasn’t a problem a year ago, when teams got to carry 30 and then 28-player rosters with a universal designated hitter. But in 2021 rosters will presumably return to 26, and the universal DH will likely disappear.
If I had to guess, I’d say Solano is something resembling an everyday starter at second base. But I don’t think a trade would be very surprising.
1.5 rWAR in a 60-game season? That’s an easy grade.
How would you grade Donovan Solano’s season?
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