MLB’s 5 Most Improved Players of 2014

There’s no telling when Major League Baseball hitters or pitchers will find their groove. It may happen after years of filling in as a bench player or during a sophomore campaign that improves upon a promising rookie season.  In any event, players hope they can bottle that lightning and make it last for years. It’s easier said than done in baseball.

The 2014 MLB season has featured breakout campaigns from career minor leaguers and veterans with 15 years of service alike. Here are the five players who have improved the most through the first quarter of the season.

1. Yangervis Solarte, New York Yankees

After the 2013 Kevin Youkilis debacle and the disappointing return and suspension of Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees searched for answers at third base. It turns out they may have had the best option toiling away on the AAA Round Rock Express. That’s where 27-year-old Yangervis Solarte had been playing for two years after a lengthy run in the Twins minor league system. In 2014, Solarte impressed the Yankees in spring training and hit his way onto the 25-man roster when the team broke camp.

He’s not going back to the minors. As of May 15, Solarte is leading not just the Yankees but the entire American League with a .336 batting average. Despite the presence of many high-priced sluggers in the New York lineup, Solarte leads the team in RBI (23), on-base percentage (.414), runs scored (23), and slugging (.521). He’s come from nowhere to the big stage in the Bronx and now leads the Yankees in every offensive category except home runs through the first quarter of 2014. To show his knack for defense, he also started a triple play in an April game in Tampa Bay.