Fresh Takes: Is Yangervis Solarte Due For Regression?
Let’s start with the obvious, Yangervis Solarte is in the midst of a career year at the age of 30. He’s putting up a career-best wRC+ and is on pace for career bests in homers, RBI, runs, OBP and slugging. He’s improved his performance on the field in every facet of the game except one:
So what has Solarte done to lead to these improvements? The short answer is he’s barreling more balls. Those are balls Statcast predicts would lead to a batting average of at least .500 and a 1.500 slugging percentage. His career barrels percentage is 3.6 and right now he’s barreling a much higher 8.1% of his batted balls. This is leading to a higher FB/HR ratio and thus the increased slugging and tertiary stats. Due to the increased barrels, Solarte has also upped his exit velocity from 85.5 to 88.0 mph and his launch angle from 14.5 to 15.6 degrees.
So this presents the question: is this Solarte power sustainable renewable energy? I don’t think that it is. As Jim Melichar so eloquently pointed out, batted ball exit velocity has documented patterns of early season peaks followed by second half regression, so it would seem Solarte is just a beneficiary of the small sample size syndrome. Even with the improvements he’s made to his launch angle and exit velocity so far this season, Solarte’s hard hit rate is only 1.4% higher than his career average. Since the majority of Solarte’s success has been driven on his massive increase of Barrels, I’m hesitant to buy into his early season success. Rather, I think it’s nothing more than the proverbial “hot start” we fantasy owners like to take advantage of and ride out as long as we can.
There are two things that stand out to me from Solarte’s season so far that may mean that the coming regression won’t be as steep as I think: his .265 BABIP is below his career mark of .278, and he has increased his walk rate up to a career-best 10.6%. Two small silver linings, though, in the grand scheme of his performance. I would expect the power surge and associated stats to take a mighty step back in the coming weeks.