Last year, Wilmer Flores played 443.1 innings at shortstop. By a fortuitous coincidence, he has played exactly 443.1 innings at short here in 2015. Now seems like a good time to check in on his defensive numbers.
Back in December we noted how DRS and UZR, the two most-popular advanced fielding numbers, differed wildly in their assessments of Flores’ defensive worth. UZR thought he was well above average while DRS was significantly more bearish. The December article said:
“If Flores plays shortstop 100 or more games in 2015, it’s extremely unlikely there will be such a difference of opinion in the results of DRS and UZR. The difference is overwhelmingly likely to be less than half of what it appeared to be this year. But we have no idea how the two systems will move to a greater consensus. It’s possible that Flores’ DRS will move into positive numbers. It’s possible his UZR will end up in negative numbers. It’s also possible that his UZR will fall some while his DRS rises a bit. Anyone who pretends to know is just guessing.”
While Flores hasn’t played 100 games at short yet this year, let’s call what he’s done so far the early returns. Here are his 2014 and 2015 numbers for both fielding systems:
The early returns show Flores’ UZR moving in the direction of his 2014 DRS. It’s important to note that neither system shows his fielding as dreadful. There are 26 shortstops who qualify for the FanGraphs leaderboard and five have a worse DRS than Flores (including Didi Gregorius, Ian Desmond and Starlin Castro) and two others are tied with him, including the often-mentioned Troy Tulowitzki.
From the eye test, Flores looks better defensively in May/June than he did in April. The gamble that Flores could handle the position defensively has for all intents and purposes paid off. No one did this thinking that he would win the Gold Glove. The move was made hoping that he wouldn’t be awful and that he would hit enough to overcome his defensive deficiencies.
It’s fair to say that he hasn’t been awful defensively.