Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Underrated Free Agents Based On Sweet Spot Percentage

Here are some underrated free agents based on sweet spot percentage.

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One
Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One / David Berding/GettyImages
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Donovan Solano

Donovan Solano has consistently been a quality hitter since his return to Major League Baseball in 2019. He has batted at least .280 with a wRC+ of 100 or greater every single year. Last season, he had a very under the radar season with the Minnesota Twins and is now a free agent with little fanfare surrounding him.

Through 450 plate appearances, Solano batted .282/.369/.391 with a .338 wOBA, and 116 wRC+. Solano walked at a career high 8.9% rate, though his 22% strikeout rate was the worst of his career. Solano definitely could hit for more power next year if he maintains his batted ball profile from the 2023 season.

Solano was at the 65th percentile or higher in exit velocity (90.2 MPH) and hard-hit rate (43.7%). His expected slugging percentage was significantly higher than his bottom line at .427, a 36 point difference.

But Solano’s 43.1% sweet spot percentage was among the best in baseball. There were only three players with a higher rate than Solano: the aforementioned Freddie Freeman, Marlins’ all-star infielder Luis Arraez, and Brandon Belt. 

Baseball Savant made three very promising comparisons to Solano based on his batted ball rates. The three were Trea Turner (2021), Ty France (2021), and Cedric Mullins (2021). Not only did all three bat at least .290 during the 2021 season, but the least amount of home runs came from Ty France, who still had 18. Mullins and Turner hit 30 and 28, respectively.

Solano is an underappreciated player in baseball. He can play three of the four infield positions, is consistently an average to above-average batter, and has some decent underlying metrics from 2023. He’s the kind of role player that every team needs. With the Pirates still needing some first base depth, I would take Solano on a low-cost deal.