The White Sox offense has been the story of the season so far. Newcomers Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton have been making big contributions already. Alexei Ramirez is having his best April ever. Even Adam Dunn has an OPS over 1.000. Buried beneath all of that is another story. Somewhat quietly, Tyler Flowers appears to have bounced back from a bad 2013.
Since so much has been written about the team's offense, let's start by taking a look at Flowers defensively. With Flowers taking over for A.J. Pierzynski last season, it was assumed that the Sox would be making a step up defensively. While Tyler Flowers' 2.2 total receiving runs was not as good as the Sox were expecting, it was 9.8 runs higher than AJ's -7.6 runs in 2012, almost good enough for a complete win.
|Season||Framing Runs per 7000||Blocking Runs per 7000||Total Receiving Runs per 7000|
Flowers is doing much better blocking pitches this season. With back issues in spring training and again in May last season, this may have affected his blocking defense. I can't imagine that the twisting and reaching needed to catch a Nate Jones slider felt that good.
His framing is also improved slightly so far this season, and he is on a pace to contribute eight runs just from framing pitches. Compared to 2011 and 2012, the rates are a bit down, but overall Flowers still might contribute almost a 1.4 WAR just off of framing and blocking compared to the average catcher.
Offensively, Flowers couldn't be more improved so far. The ball has certainly bounced the right way from him. After Wednesday's game, his BABIP is a robust .636. As of now, he's hitting a nice .375/.405/.475 with an RE24 of 2.8 compared to a miserable -23.1 last season. While his hitting is not going to be sustainable, getting some improvement on Flowers 2012 season combined with his defense could get the White Sox the 2.0 WAR catcher they'd been looking for all offseason.