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Flores is a Better SS than Tejada

Going into the 2015 season, the Mets were determined to make it work with Wilmer Flores at SS. It was rough. Flores had trouble turning the double play. He made some routine throwing errors. He seemed to press from day one. 

Eventually, the Mets had to abandon the plan. Not only was Flores struggling in the field, he was also struggling at the plate. At the end of June, he was hitting .236/.267/.390. At that point, Flores wasn’t the only one struggling. The whole team was, especially with David Wright out indefinitely. Therefore, Daniel Murphy would move to third, Flores would move to second, and Ruben Tejada would once again become the Mets SS. 

From June 30th on, Tejada was the everyday SS. Flores would eventually be relegated to the bench first with the trade for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. That went doubly so when Wright came off the  DL. Soon Tejada was going out there everyday and Flores was on the bench. 

At that point, the Mets got healthy and got Yoenis Cespedes. They just needed defense from Tejada. The narrative was Tejada was a good defensive SS, and Flores wasn’t. Looking over the stats, I believe the narrative was wrong. The narrative should’ve been, Tejada is more steady than Flores. It’s a slight difference, but it’s an important one. The difference is because Flores has better range at short than Tejada. 

In fact, in terms of range, Tejada isn’t a SS. He never was. His UZR this year was a -5.6. This translates to him being a below average SS.  Throwing away last year, Tejada’s average UZR is 0.8, which means he’s, at best, an average SS. 

On the other hand, Flores did come into 2015 with some promise. His 2014 at SS was 4.0 rating him as an above average defensive SS. However, this year he had a UZR of -2.5 which rates as being a slightly below average SS.  It makes him better than Tejada, but still below average. However, the flaw with UZR is it doesnt judge throws or the ease in which a player turns a double play. 

It’s the attempt at turning the double play that might’ve cost Tejada a chance at being the SS in 2016. Going into the playoffs, Tejada really seized his chance to be the everyday SS. He was making the routine plays, and he was hitting. In September and October, he hit .297/.357/.496. For the year, he hit .261/.338/.350. This is compared to Flores’ .253/.287/.386. 

Tejada really became the better of two bad choices. He had the leg up in the competition until Chase Utley took Tejada’s legs right out from under him. Mets fans were initially nervous with Flores really being the only SS. He performed admirably. 

Flores did show off that range, but now he was making all the throws. He showed no signs of hesitation on the double plays. He only hit .195/.298/.294 in the postseason, but he was taking better at bats. He showed why the Mets wanted him to be the SS over Tejada. 

Accordingly, Flores is the better SS, and if the Mets make no additional moves, he should be the 2016 Opening Day SS. 

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