Losing nine of the last ten games means you have to look for rays of hope in other places. You won’t find them in the standings.
One of those rays is Nick Solak. The Rangers seem to have a bona fide player in Nick Solak.
Ironically, speaking of rays of hope, he was a Ray before he was a Ranger. And, unlike the Rangers, the Rays have a long string of success in drafting and developing quality major league players.
This Rangers regime, by contrast, has only Joey Gallo. Not bad for thirteen years of work.
It’s not fair to call Solak an All Star or hang tags on him yet. But Solak possesses a skill the Rangers obviously don’t teach: Making contact with a pitched ball. He is a keeper in a franchise where the hit skill doesn’t exist.
How do you know he wasn’t drafted and groomed in the Rangers system? He can actually hit.
Game by game he seems to be gaining confidence. But it’s worth pointing out that he is, after all, still a rookie. Solak had 116 at-bats in 2019. A player is considered a rookie if he has fewer than 130 at-bats.
In his brief time with the Rangers last season, he hit .293, with an OPS+ of 123. Only All Stars Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence had a higher OPS+.
Yet, when this delayed season started, he didn’t have a position. Odor was the second baseman. Calhoun the left fielder. Santana the center fielder. Choo was the DH. Solak was the odd man out
That’s not a reflection on Solak, it’s a reflection on the decision-making skills of Rangers management.
After what he accomplished in 2019, how could you not have Solak as a permanent fixture in the lineup in 2020? He was your third-best hitter. Yet, he had to get in the back of the line.
But abject failure has a way of changing minds. (Much quicker in places outside of Arlington, Texas.) And now Solak is the offensive leader of the Rangers. As a rookie.
That’s because the guy who they chose to start ahead of him at second is batting .150 with an OPS+ of 32. The guy they chose to start ahead of him in center is batting .167 with an OPS+ of 56. The guy they chose to start ahead of him at DH is batting .211 with an OPS+ of 82. And the guy they chose to start ahead of him in left field was batting .172 with an OPS+ of 19 before he got injured and they, reluctantly, gave his spot to Solak.
Will he be a good player? Will he be an All Star? It’s still too early to know what Nick Solak will become. One thing is for sure, though. He is not a Ranger. And the Rangers need 24 more players exactly like that.
Mike Fiers (3-1, 5.81) vs. Kolby Allard (0-2, 7.82)