Solarte batted .303 in April after a torrid spring training. The next month, he smashed 5 homers en route to a .296 batting average. A pretty solid period for a rookie, no?
Now in June, he has found a rough spot, with a measly .167 average. What is even worse is his RBI production: only 2 runs batted in since the beginning of this month. Normally, there should be little reason to worry because slumps happen. Players strike out, have bad games, and sometimes bad weeks if the problem is serious enough. With Solarte, he was swamped by expectations.
In some ways, Solarte was subconsciously the usher of the new Yankees’ dynasty, with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and David Robertson. While “dynasty” is an exaggeration, the Yankees’ organization and the fans thought Solarte had great potential, and after watching Puig last season in Los Angeles, and Jose Abreu in 2014 for the White Sox, we felt that we needed, no, deserved, a rookie superstar of our own. We as fans tried to make Solarte our Puig, and he might be feeling a little pressure. Of course, athletes are used to pressure, but Solarte was a career minor leaguer before New York, and this entire experience has been somewhat of a shock for him.
Given the average performance by the lineup, Solarte might have been trying to overcompensate, too. It’s not like Mark Teixeira is back to his 2009 self, and Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, and Derek Jeter are not 30 anymore. He might be trying to swing a little further, throw the ball to first quicker, and increase a bevy of other aspects of his game.
Solarte needs to simplify. He has been such a great hitter throughout his minor league and major league stops thus far; there is little doubt his performance will pick up. While this was supposed to be “the season” for the Yankees in the mind of the front office, the team and the fans need to be patient with Solarte until he finds his groove again, which he surely will.