Wilmer Flores and Profiling at Third

Everyone’s talking about 3B/2B/1B Wilmer Flores again. Of course a month when a 20-year old hits .380/.436/.609 with 13 extra-base hits, nine walks and 12 strikeouts in AA tends to prompt that.

Kevin Goldstein writing at Baseball Prospectus on Monday:

On the surface, at least on a statistical level, Flores has had an impressive rebound season. … Finally off of shortstop, Flores has split time between second base, where he just doesn’t have the athleticism to play, and third base, where he’s below average, but acceptable, yet just doesn’t have the power to profile. He’s certainly better, and certainly still very young, but he’s turned into a bit of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

 

Emphasis added.

 

Matt Eddy at Baseball America:

….but the power projections of his youth no longer appear greatly exaggerated as they once did.

 

I think Goldstein is on point regarding the idea of “Wilmer Flores, second baseman.” I still have not talked to a scout who thinks he will have the range to play there in the big leagues.

There are scouts who have seen Flores at third, who think he can play there. He’s not good there yet, but he might hit enough to make up for it.

The question I have is what else Flores has to do to show that he has power. He hit his 17th home run of the year Tuesday. I think his power will play at third. A careful review of current MLB 3B suggest Flores has shown plenty of game power- given his age – to hang with this group.

As a whole, MLB 3B have hit .263/.326/.424 this year. Within that group, 23 MLB 3B with 250 or more PA this year, have an wRC+ of 100 or greater where 100 is league average; 12 are above 120 wRC+.

Of this group of average or better offensive third basemen only THREE, were 1. playing professional baseball at age 20, and 2. hit more homeruns than Wilmer Flores in his age 20 season. This is a dynamite list: Miguel Cabrera, who ripped 22 while jumping from AA to the big leagues as a 20-year old, Eric Chavez, who hit 33 between AA and AAA, and Alex Rodriguez who hit 20 in the big league with the Mariners. Two other guys, Aramis Ramirez and Adrian Beltre made their MLB debuts in their age 20 season.  There are two Hall-of-Famers in that group and Jay Jaffe points out that Beltre is not that far away.

Here is a partial list of notable MLB third basemen who Flores has outhomered at age 20, while playing at the same level or higher: David Wright, Chipper Jones, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas and Brett Lawrie.

Flores still has work to do at third. I still think he has the hands and arm for the spot. He’s still learning though.

The questions about his power just seem outdated.

My chart of MLB 3B and their age-20 power production is below the jump.

 


2012 Season Age 20 Season

HR wRC+ Level HR OPS
Miguel Cabrera 32 160 AA/MLB 22 1.038 in AA; .793 in MLB
David Wright 17 147 A+ 15 .828
Chipper Jones 13 141 A+/AA 13 .863
Todd Frazier 18 139 College
Chase Headley 22 137 College
Aramis Ramirez 18 135 AAA/MLB 10 .796 in AAA; .646 in MLB
David Freese 17 133 College
Jeff Keppinger 6 129 College
Adrian Beltre 24 126 MLB 15 .780
Eric Chavez 13 124 AA/AAA 33 0.991
Alex Rodriguez 15 122 MLB 20 1.045
Will
Middlebrooks
15 121 A 7 .753
Ryan Zimmerman 16 115 A/AA 11 .941
Pablo Sandoval 8 114 A+ 11 .788
Kevin Youkilis 15 112 College
Hanley Ramirez 20 111 A+/AA 6 .804
Pedro Alvarez 23 109 College
Trevor Plouffe 19 107 A+ 4 .681
Chris Johnson 13 102 College
Wilson Betemit 12 102 AAA 8 .683
Scott Rolen 6 102 A+/AA 13 .861
Kyle Seager 15 100 College
Brett Lawrie 9 100 AA 8 .797
Jerry Hairston 4 99 College
Mike Moustakas 19 98 A+ 16 .718
Alberto
Callaspo
8 92 A 2 .805