Wilmer Flores matches last year’s innings total at shortstop

Wilmer FloresLast 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:

Year Innings DRS UZR
2014 443.1 (-3) 4.0
2015 443.1 (-3) (-0.8)

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.

9 comments for “Wilmer Flores matches last year’s innings total at shortstop

  1. TexasGusCC
    June 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    While Mets fans and pout about Flores at SS without looking around at what other clubs may have there, this is from Jon Heyman’s article on May 7th:

    The Mets should be patient with Wilmer Flores (.235 but with three home runs), one rival says. “There are plenty of teams that would be happy to have Flores playing shortstop,” that rival said … Top pitching prospects Steven Matz (4-1, 2.04) and Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 1.66) are looking dominant pitching in Las Vegas, and that ain’t easy.

    http://mweb.cbssports.com/mlb/writer/jon-heyman/25177627/inside-baseball-trade-possibilities-for-likely-seller-brewers-plus-more-mlb-news

    Remember, this writing was as of May 7, 2015. The Mets already started their slide and Flores was at the height of his defensive shakiness. Still, there were five SS, including Tulo and Andrus, that had as many errors as Flores or more.

  2. Name
    June 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    i’ve been puzzled by Flores’s UZR for a while now because it never seems to correlate with the eye test.

    Last year when most people thought he played poorly, and yet he finished with a 4.0 UZR.
    This year, early in the year when he was missing the most basic routine plays and getting a ton of errors, his UZR crept in the 2.0 range.
    Now recently, i think he’s been playing a cleaner defense and yet his UZR has fallen below zero.

    I guess UZR suffers a lot from small sample issues (which in turn renders fWAR useless) and ovearll DRS has a better handle on shorter sample sizes.

    • June 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      There’s an identical disclaimer in the glossary at FG for both defensive systems.

      “The other thing to remember is that DRS isn’t going to work well in small sample sizes, especially a couple of months or less.”
      “The other thing to remember is that UZR isn’t going to work well in small sample sizes, especially a couple of months or less.”

      • Name
        June 9, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        I know that all defensive metrics take a long time to normalize, but it seems to me that DRS seems to have the “correct” indication more than UZR when we’re talking about short sample sizes.

        Another example was Eric Campbell earlier this year when in less than 200 innings his UZR was nearly 3 (and highest on the team) while DRS kept him around the zero range.

        Of course, i don’t check every player every day so it could just my personal bias coming into play.

  3. Metsense
    June 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Flores has shown that he is defensively near average as a shortstop. He is 8th in the NL in fWAR among SS. I didn’t envision him doing this well but I also didn’t envision the Mets in first place either. If we were to extrapolate his numbers at the 1/3 mark of the season for the rest of the year then he would hit 27 homeruns with 75 RBI’s. In 2014 that would have been #1 in home runs and #2 in RBI’s among ML shortstops. I guess instead of saying what he can’t do we should concentrate what he can do. He is a better rated defensive SS than Murphy was rated defensively at second base and we accepted that.

    • Chris F
      June 9, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      I cant accept either Metsense. That is a fail for a middle infield. Watching Flores throw is pure agony, and hes looked miserable again tonight.

  4. Name
    June 29, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    If this is the end of the experiment, we will end with no consensus.

    In 600.2 innings at short this year, he has a DRS mark of -5 and UZR of 1.0.
    In 1044 total innings (about 116 full games) at short in the majors, he has a DRS mark of -8 and UZR of 5.0.

    Fangraphs updates periodically rather than daily so there may be minor changes in the next week or so.

    • Name
      July 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Looks like both systems updated in the past week or so.

      Flores down to 0.3 UZR and up to -4 DRS

      • July 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm

        That’s it at SS for now. But it still loves him at 2B

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