Texas Rangers second baseman Nick Solak didn't get off to a great start this season. In fact, of all the things that people questioned about Solak, his bat was never one of them.
But after the first nine games, Solak had a .637 OPS. Rangers third baseman and respected veteran Brock Holt took him under his wing and gave him a heart-to-heart.
"We had a good conversation," Holt said. "Solak, man. He's kind of grown on me since I've been here. He's turning into one of my favorite players. They way he goes about his business. They way he plays the game. Like I said, he's a baseball player. He's going to be good at this game for a long time."
While Holt wanted to keep the details of his conversation with Solak to himself, he didn't mind sharing one little anecdote.
"I told him to wear his pants up," said Holt. "I said, 'Hey, man. You're a baseball player. You're a gamer. We wear our pants up.' And he started wearing his pants up and he started raking. So, I take credit for that."
Solak staring wearing his pants up at the beginning of the Tampa Bay series on April 12. Since then, Solak has a slash line of .364/.432/.667 (1.099 OPS) with three home runs, seven RBI. In addition, his three walks to six strikeouts since April 12 is a much better ratio than the one walk to 15 strikeouts up until that point.
Who knows if there is some sort of baseball magic in wearing your pants up. Maybe that's a question better suited for the baseball gods. What a player like Holt can see is a player who carries an infectious work ethic and attitude with him.
"He works hard," Holt said. "He wants to be good. He's a lot of fun to watch work every day. I'm happy to be here and to get a chance to see him play. He's been probably our best player up to this point. He's a lot of fun to watch."
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Holt knows a thing or two about good second baseman. Holt was a part of the Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2018, and was teammates with long-time second baseman Dustin Pedroia from 2013-2019, whom Holt lauded with praise this spring.
Holt brings some precious experience from being in a championship-caliber clubhouse in Boston. He also knows where and how to recognize the characteristics of that kind of environment.
There's been a lot of talk that the 2021 Rangers are a tight-knit group. There's also been talk that this team isn't quite as talented as others throughout the game. For Holt, he sees players like Solak and many others who exemplify a championship attitude.
"Good players is the first thing," Holt explained. "From top to bottom, we've got good players, but we've also got good people who love the game and love being around each other.
"I lived it in '18, man. There wasn't a guy on the team that didn't love the other guy. That was the most special group I've been a part of. That matters, to care about the guy next to you. We've got a lot of those guys here."