There's no way that guy who spent six years in the minor leagues before making his Major League debut would sign with the New York Yankees, be a long-shot favorite to win a 25-man roster spot out of spring and actually do so, then become the team's starting third baseman after getting off to a hot start that has yet to cease.

Except in the case of Yangervis Solarte, of course.

We're in the first week of June, and the phrase "don't worry, it's still early" is no longer applicable. Solarte, to this point, is the Yankees' best hitter, statistically, leading the team in batting average (.298), RBIs (26), and on-base percentage (.366).

Just when you start to think that we might be watching him sputter back to earth and begin hitting the way he should -- probably in the .240-range -- he gives you a great week of hitting that raises his batting average back up to near .300, which has been the case this week, as Solarte is hitting a tidy .350 (7-for-20) over the past week. That number correlates with his .303 average in April, and .296 average in May.

Solarte is doing most of his damage this season against right-handed pitchers, where he has about double the at-bats left-handed than right-handed. He's .311 with 18 RBIs and all six of his homeruns this season against right-handed pitching. Being that he plays in Yankee Stadium, those numbers make sense.

As a right-handed batter, he's only hitting .274 with eight RBIs and two walks. His on-base percentage against lefties (.299) is one hundred points lower than his number against righties (.399).

The Yankees will welcome the Oakland Athletics to town tonight for a three-game series in the Bronx. Two of the three starting pitchers that the Yankees will face, including tonight's starter, Scott Kazmir, are left-handed, which might not bode well for Solarte. But you would have to think that he'll still be in the lineup with Kelly Johnson being left-handed, and he might have to play first base if Mark Teixeira's wrist won't let him go tonight.

The other reason: this guy is the team's best hitter -- you can't bench him.

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