Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wilmer Flores Report 3


4/20-4/26


            With Wilmer Flores currently the Mets best internal replacement for the offensive black hole that Ruben Tejada has become, I am very interested in how he is doing defensively (and offensively, though I worry less about his offense for now) at SS in Las Vegas for the 51’s. With all the excitement around the Mets farm system, especially the pitchers at AAA, and considering the 51’s games usually start after the Mets games end, I was interested in watching a lot of Mets minor league games this season, and so I thought I’d keep an eye on Wilmer Flores while I do. I will try to include all plays that appear near Wilmer, both outs made, errors, infield hits, and balls that got by him, but I will not include singles that may technically be in one of his zones, but which Wilmer was positioned nowhere near. I am also not including double plays in which Flores had the role of turn man.
I will give a quick description of the play, describing the speed of the grounder (soft, medium, hard) and location at minimum, and being more descriptive when important, and then give an appropriate location code (as described by the chart at www.retrosheet.org/location.htm). I will give my most objective judgment on whether an average SS makes the play on any of Wilmer’s miscues. Since offense is the more crucial part of his game, I’ll also be giving a quick recap of what he did at the plate. If you don’t want the play-by-play details, skip to the end for the recap of his work at SS, and keep an eye out for images along the way. The table at the end has out conversion rates per zone on ground balls that were possible for Flores to handle to date – plays that are hits 100% of the time and pop ups are excluded from the recap. For previous reports: (week 1, week 2)

4/20

1st inning – El Paso executed a hit-and-run with a runner on first and one out, resulting in a medium grounder to Flores right that he backhanded. 63/G6

2nd inning – Inning started with a Jeff Francoeur single on a medium grounder over the second base bag, Flores was playing to pull – no chance. S8/G6M

Next batter hit a medium grounder near the bag that Flores charged and tossed to Danny Muno to start a double play. 643/G6M

3rd inning – With one out, a soft grounder from Noel Rico was rolling towards the shortstop hole when Flores rounded it for the pickup with good momentum towards first, but his throw was a little rushed and too high for Allen Dykstra, who couldn’t handle it cleanly. E6/G56

After a hit-by-pitch put a second runner on base, a medium grounder was hit right at Flores for a ‘routine’ double play. 643/G6

4th inning – The 51’s pulled the infield in with a runner on third and one out, and a medium grounder was hit right at Flores to keep the run from scoring. 63/G6S

6th inning – Flores handled a hard liner leading off. 6/L6

7th inning – Flores handled a soft liner with one out. 6/L6

Offense: 1-2 (3 BB), Walked in the 1st; walked to lead off the 4th; got credit for an infield single on a popup in the sun that no infielder could see well enough in the 5th S5/P56S; walked in the 6th; and lined out in the 7th 4/L4.



3rd inning – With a runner on 2B and nobody out, a hard grounder was hit towards the hole; Flores made a backhanded stab but the ball got under his glove (per the announcer, I had the distant Vegas view) and into LF for a single. S7/G56

4th inning – Soft grounder was hit just past the grass near 2B and handled easily by Flores. 63/G6M

5th inning – Soft line drive was hit right at Flores. 6/L6

8th inning – With two outs and nobody on, a medium grounder was hit up the middle. Flores cut it off and threw a bullet to 1st to end the inning. 63/G6M

Offense: 0-4, Struck out swinging in the 1st; popped out to the SS in the third 6/P5; flied out to deep LF in the 5th 7/F78D; hit a hard one-hopper to the 2B in the 8th 43/G43.

4/22


1st inning – With the bases loaded and nobody out, a medium grounder hit to the right of Flores started a double play as a runner scored. 643/G6

2nd inning – With a runner on second and nobody out, Flores handled a hard two-hopper hit his way, but made a low throw that Dykstra was unable to handle cleanly. 1B will usually make this play no problem, but Dykstra just bobbled it this time as he came up off the bag. Still, Flores had time to make a good throw but didn’t. Something that will come back to him with experience I would hope. E6/G6

4th inning – With one out, a hard one-hopper was flagged down by Flores as he lunged to his left before setting and making a strong throw. 63/G6M

5th inning – Leading off the inning, a medium chopper was hit right at Flores for an easy play. 63/G6

6th inning – With one out, a soft grounder up the middle was charged and cut off by Flores, who then threw on to 1B for the out – the throw was low but good enough for Dykstra. 63/G6M

7th inning – With two on and two out, a hard grounder was hit to the hole that Flores dove to stop, then got up throwing to 1B in time to record the out. 63/G56
The play:


Quick tweets with Toby Hyde for sobering perspective:

8th inning – With a runner on first and one out, a hard grounder was hit in the hole. Flores slid as he made a backhanded attempt, then popped up to get the force at 2B. 64/G56

Offense: 2-7, Lined a single into RF to load the bases in the 1st S9/L9S; lined out to RF with runners on first and second to end the 1st 9/L9; with the infield in, he hit a one-hopper down the 3B line and Conrad was able to get the throw to 1B just in time in the 3rd 53/G5L; hit a 400+ fly ball out to CF that Maybin was waiting for 8/F8D; popped out to shallow LF, handled by the SS in the 5th 6/P6D; hit a line drive single into CF for 2 RBI’s in the 7th S8/L8S; hit a check swing liner down the 1B line to end the 8th 3u/G3L.

4/24

2nd inning – With runners on first and second and nobody out, Endy Chavez hit a hard grounder up the middle that Flores shuffled in front of and tossed to Muno, whose low throw was dug out of the dirt nicely by Eric Campbell. 643/G6M

3rd inning – With 2 outs, Xavier Avery hit a soft grounder towards SS that got under the glove of 3B Lutz and then Flores couldn’t get the throw to 1B in time. He seemed to be waiting back a little to see if Lutz would get it before fully committing to charging the ball. S6/G56S 

6th inning – With one out and a runner on second, Taylor hit a medium grounder just to the right of Flores for an easy out. 63/G6

7th inning – With one out, Sucre hit a medium grounder that Flores backhanded before firing onto 1B for the out. 63/G6

9th inning – Leadoff hitter hit a sharp groundball into LF, past Lutz – Flores positioned more up the middle. S7/G56D

After Avery struck out, Taylor hit a hard grounder to the right of Flores, who got in front of it and made the strong throw for the out. 63/G6

Offense: 1-4, struck out looking in the 1st; struck out swinging in the 4th; pulled a groundball into LF for a single in the 5th; hit a check-swing, soft bouncer that the SS flagged down in front of 2B in the 6th 63/G6M; struck out swinging on a 93 MPH fastball in the 8th.

 

4/25


7th inning – Taylor hit a hard one-hopper toward the SS hole that got passed a diving Flores. S7/G56D

8th inning – With two outs and a runner on 2B, Avery popped one down the LF line that fell between Lutz, Flores and LF Seratelli, and then bounced towards the bullpen as the runner scored and Avery ended up at 3B with a triple. Might have been foul if not for the wind, it was such a crazy wind night. 3B7/P7LS

9th inning – Taylor singled on a hard grounder into LF. S7/G56D

Offense: 1-4 (BB), Walked on 5 pitches in the 1st; flied out to LF in the 3rd; got an infield single on a soft grounder up the 1B line in the 5th S2/G23; flied out to RF in the 6th; flied out to deep CF for a 400 foot out in the 8th.

4/26 Did not start


Recap

SS Defense


Table 1 – Table of out conversion rate per zone on groundballs possibly fielded.
Zone
6S
6MS
6M
6
56
56D
56S
4M
Total
Chances
5
3
22
29
11
3
1
1
75
Outs
3
2
21
27
4
0
0
0
57
Conversion %
60
66.7
95.5
93
36.4
0
0
0
76

Games: 18.2               Errors: 5            Double Plays Started: 13            
Infield Singles Allowed: 7         Singles to the Outfield Allowed: 5

           

Offense (Week Totals): 5-21 (4 BB), .238/.360/.238


Not exactly the best week for Wilmer, as he committed two errors and didn’t have an extra base. The errors were on throws, which has generally been one of the stronger facets of his game thus far. With respect to the second throwing error – you hope your SS never throws the ball in the dirt, but it happens, and 1B are usually able to hold on to it. Not trying to rag on Dykstra or excuse Wilmer – he really had more time to make that throw, ball beat the runner by a few steps – but he is not exactly the best defensive first basemen. Otherwise, he had an acceptable week at SS, only looking awkward on the 4/24 play in the 3rd.
One positive is his continued patience and great eye at the plate - he rarely swings out of the zone and is generally correct when taking close pitches for balls. His 8.6% BB-rate would be a minor league best – obviously it’s a small sample size at 93 PA’s, but walk rate stabilizes at around 120 PA’s, so it’s getting close to a reasonable size. One possible SSS side effect of seeing more pitches per plate appearance (4.11 P/PA early on vs. 3.76 in 2013 for the 51s) is a slightly increased strike out looking rate – only equivalent to a difference of 2 called strikeouts, so that’s just as likely noise as anything (same applies to 2% improvement in overall BB-rate of course). On the negative side, he has been making more weak contact early on than last year – line drives are down and, while he’s hitting more fly balls, his popup rate has more than doubled so far.
Overall, he’s likely been a negative UZR/150 and DRS defender at SS so far who hasn’t hit much. Still, even struggling offensively he looks more useful than Tejada at the dish, with way more upside, and he hasn’t exactly been over matched the past two weeks defensively, converting 78% of plays near him over those 2 weeks – his second week was his strongest so far at 83% conversion on plays near him. I still think he could be at least as useful as 'bad Jeter' was defensively, especially with team-guided attention to his pre-pitch positioning – which should help offset his deficient range – but he’d still have to hit much more than he has so far to be valuable at SS. If he were off to a start, it’s possible that he’d be forcing the Mets hand. As is, the team might not be so ready to promote him when he still seems below average defensively and is off to a slow start with the bat – noticing the trend, START HITTING WILMER!
Note: I plan to go back and add a soft/medium/hard divider to the zones in Table 1 and add a row of the average ML SS conversion percentages per zone, as reported by Mitchel Lichtman at Baseball Think Factory, for comparison, which is the most current UZR out percentage data I could find, although I would prefer to update it with something more recent if anyone can recommend where to look.

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