Bright spots have been elusive for the New York Mets this season. Amid all of the turmoil that 2018 has presented us with, the organization’s eternal beacon of hope (no, not that one), Wilmer Flores, is having arguably the best year of his career.
The Venezuelan native has had astronomic highs and depth-defying lows during his six-year tenure in Flushing. He’s been a consistent hitter (.262/.303/.431, 68 homers, 244 RBI in 554 games), and provides quite the spark when needed.
During late and close situations, Flores has a career line of .257/.308/.404 with ten homers, 43 runs batted in, and 13 doubles in 328 of those specific at-bats. Clearly, he’s proven his worth, even if his defense is…sub-par (-15 DRS, -2.3 UZR, -4.4 dWAR in 1,313.2 innings at all positions).
Through 99 games this season (339 plate appearances), the 27-year-old is slashing .272/.327/.454 with 11 home runs, 22 doubles, 42 runs batted in, and a 117 OPS+. What’s even more impressive is the fact that he’s reached this level of productivity amid a downpour of adversity.
Flores suffered at first from a lack of playing time (Adrian Gonzalez got the lion’s share of starts at first base for a considerable portion of the season), then he was sidelined from May 28 until June 15 with lower back soreness.
If that wasn’t enough, for the umpteenth time in his young career, his name was once again being floated in trade rumors this season. After what he’s been through in the past around deadline season, some minor trade-winds weren’t going to affect Wilmer Flores.
Through the endless stream of madness that’s come from this organization over the last few years, Wilmer Flores has been simply a joy to watch mature and develop into a quality ballplayer.
I know it feels like he’s been here forever. He’s been through so much as a member of the Mets. But to put things in perspective, Flores, born August 6, 1991, is only eight months older than one of the newest additions to the team, second baseman Jeff McNeil (April 8, 1992).
What we are seeing now could be close to the finished product in Flores. It’s hard to remember that he’s still a developing player, but he most certainly is one.
He currently owns a career-high 7.7 walk percentage (5.3 percent for his career) and career-low 9.1 percent strikeout rate (13.0 percent). He’s eclipsing his career .315 weighted on-base average (.333 wOBA this season), as well as his career 100 wRC+ (112 in 2018) by healthy margins.
If this is what we get from a just-entering-his-prime Wilmer Flores while dealing with the array of distractions he’s had to this season, imagine what heights he could reach as he navigates through the rest of his career?
Flores is arbitration eligible for another season. As has been the topic of conversation over the last few weeks, the New York Mets need to play their young, under-contract players and get a good feel for what they have moving forward.
Wilmer Flores is one of those players and can provide a purpose on this team, in whatever fashion deemed necessary apparently, moving into the future.