Not Another Wilmer Flores Defense Post

It looks like the New York Mets are going to be entering the season with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop.  Flores has become a polarizing figure among Mets fans for a myriad of reasons, most notably of which would be his defensive capabilities at the position.  Scouts have long held that Flores is not a capable shortstop; however his defensive metrics were pretty good last year!  That being said we know a sample size of one season of defensive metrics is prone to a lot of statistical noise.  And THAT being said we know that Flores played just 443.1 innings at shortstop last season.  Uh oh.  What exactly can we take from that sample size?  How much weight should we place on these defensive metrics for Mr.Flores?

Are the scouts right?  Are the metrics right?  Or is the answer somewhere in between?  (Almost definitely.)

What follows is an exercise which will answer precisely zero of the above questions.  However, I cannot remember a situation quite like this Flores predicament, so I went on a quest (through FanGraphs) to find some comparables.  What shortstops have had the type of defensive metric success Flores has had in such a short sample size, and how have they fared outside of that season?

I looked at a sample of players from 2003-2014 who played from 400 to 500 innings at the position with a UZR/150 from 5 to 19 (Flores was at 12.5).  All these parameters are quite arbitrary, but this whole exercise is quite arbitrary so let’s move along.

This brings us a list of ten seasons excluding Flores.  The seasons are as follows:

 

2014    Jose Ramirez (498.2 Innings, 18.9 UZR/150)

2008    Marco Scutaro (472.1, 17.6)

2008    Maicer Izturis (448, 15.9)

2009    Robert Andino (478.1, 14.1)

2010    Jerry Hairston (489.2, 8.9)

2006    Alex Cora (434, 8.7)

2012    Paul Janish (450.1, 8.6)

2014    Stephen Drew (413.1, 8.1)

2012    John McDonald (426.1, 6.1)

2010    Wilson Valdez (458, 5.2)

What this list of players lacks, is a very poor fielding shortstop.  The lowest career shortstop UZR/150 of the bunch belongs to Mr. Izturis at -3.1 in 1697.1 innings.  This seems to be a list of humans in which you can confidently state “Hey!  None of these players were atrocious major-league defensive shortstops over their careers!”

So what does this mean in regards to Flores?  Basically, nothing.  However, Mets fans can now take solace in knowing that the 10 players (from the last 12 seasons), who had the most similar statistical defensive season to Flores’ 2014, had careers in which they were able to play the shortstop position not horribly.  Now, if Flores himself can play the shortstop position not horribly then the Mets might just have them a nice little player.

Then again, there is always this:



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stevenam
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stevenam

Even Ozzie Smith himself made an error once in a while. And I bet he looked pretty stupid in doing so on (rare) occasion.

PPP
Guest
PPP

According to Baseball Reference, Smith had 6019 putouts in his career and 9,920 assists with only 116 errors. Of those 116 errors, field fx only categorizes 11 as “easy” plays. Looking back at the video archive of those errors, none were as bad as the error above by Flores.

Buns
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Buns

Intense

Jim
Guest
Jim

As a Mets fan, it’s not Flores defense alone that worries me. I think he can do ok at SS, and have one of the biggest bats at the position, in the league. But you add his limited defensive ability to Murphy’s lack of defense at second base, and that gives me a lot of concern. How many double plays are these guys NOT going to turn? How many extra batters are the young Mets pitchers going to have to face because of these two?