Yangervis Solarte’s Fantasy Baseball Impact
Fantasy owners don’t line up to acquire utility infielders. But in simulation leagues, like Tory Hernandez’ Reality Fantasy Baseball (RFB), versatility and depth are a must to survive 162 games. With Robinson Cano’s departure and Alex Rodriguez’ suspension, the New York Yankees chose to piecemeal their infield with Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and unknowns Yangervis Solarte and Dean Anna.
RFB banks player appearances and randomly selects them in head-to-head games. When a starting position player falls short of a full game of at-bats, the computer simulation detects the void and selects a player from the bench to finish the game. Veterans like Johnson and Roberts are generally more expensive than rookies and cannot be optioned to the minor leagues without being exposed to waivers.
When weighing the merits of the Yankee infielders, weigh the contractual and service-time considerations:
- Kelly Johnson (8.127 years of Major League Service time) has a two-year, $5-million guaranteed contract and cannot be sent to the minors.
- Brian Roberts (11.131 years of service time) has a one-year, $1.3-million contract with a club option for $1.65-million and also cannot be sent down.
- Yangervis Solarte and Dean Anna are both free agents with no service time, likely to receive non-guaranteed league minimum contracts. Owners can option them freely to the minor leagues as needed for the next three years.
So in the RFB format, which infielder is preferred? Assuming it’s for a reserve role, go with Solarte.
But let’s weigh the merits of each. Like anything, give primary consideration to team needs. For example, if you have enough cash and a total void at 3B or 2B, Johnson is the best option with an established track record and guaranteed at-bats. But if you’re starting Kelly Johnson, your problems may be bigger than ROTOscouting can solve.
The Case for Kelly Johnson:
You can expect a K-rate around 25-percent and an awful OBP, so Johnson may be a negative asset as a starter. Last season in RFB, Johnson had -5.612 linear weight and a -2.013 fielding index. So you’ll get regular at-bats, but he isn’t going to do much for you. In a reserve role, Johnson receives a spike in value from versatility. He will be eligible at 2B, 3B and corner OF. He’ll soon pick up 1B eligibility as the primary starting 1B while Mark Teixeira is out. Having a reserve who can step in at five positions has value. But you’ll be saddled with a 2-year guaranteed salary.
The Case for Brian Roberts:
If you’re using Roberts as a starter, are you really betting on a return to his 2003-2009 All-Star form? The 36-year-old is no longer that player, averaging 44 games from 2011-2013 while hitting .231. Only eligible at 2B, he brings zero versatility. So I wouldn’t recommend Roberts, at over three times the salary, ahead of Anna or Solarte.
The Case for Yangervis Solarte and Dean Anna:
With no MLB track records, Solarte and Anna could flame out and disappear. But on a non-guaranteed minimum salary, you could just as easily cut bait and move on with no strings attached. If they blossom – even in a reserve role – you’d have a bargain with six years of controlled salary. Anna registered a .331/.410/.482 campaign last year in AAA and will serve as Derek Jeter’s primary back-up at SS, so he may not offer much positional versatility.
Solarte, twice a minor-league free agent, won the utility infield role over recently-jettisoned Eduardo Nunez. That raised eye brows, but Solarte hit .429 in spring training and earned it. Don’t get carried away by Solarte’s torrid start (12 hits and an MLB-leading six doubles in his first eight games – fueled by a BABIP around .500). But credit the Venezuelan switch-hitter with a 3-year .296 batting average in his last 1,503 plate appearances at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Solarte remains error-free at both 3B and 2B.
Scouting Yangervis Solarte
I scouted Yangervis Solarte’s first big-league start in Houston and believe he has a chance to carve out a niche as a utility infielder. He used a quiet set-up and appeared to have a plan to see plenty of pitches and wait for the right one. Small sample size disclaimers apply, but he’s off to a good start and appears to be in Joe Girardi’s good graces.
16 Apr 2014 / Bob Usselman /
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