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Legends On Deck

Wilmer Flores: Future Starter or Utility Player?

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With all of the injuries that the Mets have suffered during the 2017 season, Wilmer Flores has been one of the few somewhat pleasant surprises who has actually stayed healthy. At only 26 years old, Flores clearly figures into the team’s future plans in some regard. However, one of the questions the Mets’ front office will face this offseason will be whether they can rely on Flores as an everyday regular next season, or if they should keep him in the super utility role which he has mostly served in over the last few seasons.

Flores has posted a 106 wRc+ so far in 2017 (6 points above league average), which is somewhat consistent with his 112 wRc+ in 2016. However, one of the most significant improvements Flores has made this season is in his hitting against righties. Wilmer has always been a stellar offensive player against lefties, but has tended to struggle against righties. His 2017 slash line of .263/.309/.456 vs. righties is good for a 100 wRc+, which is exactly league average. This a tremendous improvement from his .232/.289/.353, 75 wRc+ mark against righties in 2016, as well as his similarly poor .251/.279/.358, 77 wRc+ against righties in 2015. The fact that Flores has now shown that he can produce against both lefties and righties should allow the Mets’ front office to consider giving him a starting role entering 2018.

Grand Slam New York

Defensively, Flores’ slow foot speed has always limited him somewhat, as he has always been a below average third baseman. His -13.9 UZR/150 in 2016 was subpar, but his current -8.5 UZR/150 mark in 2017 is a sizable improvement. At second base, Flores has faired much better in 2017 with an above average 2.8 UZR/150, up from -13.1 in 2016. The fact that he has improved at both positions this season is a positive sign for Flores, demonstrating that he is working on improving the flaws of his game.

The fact that Flores has shown big improvements this season in the two weakest areas of his game (hitting vs. right handers and defense) shows me that he can probably be a solid infield option as an everyday player in 2018 and beyond. He would obviously profile best at second base since his defense has actually been above average there this season. However, if David Wright does not stay healthy next year, he can also get some playing time at third base as well. Considering the fact that the Mets have obvious holes to fill at catcher, center field, and possibly at the back end of their rotation, Flores can be a solid, homegrown infield option with the potential to improve even more. A profile consisting of above average hitting with passable defense can make for a valuable everyday starter, especially from a young player like Flores who is still only entering his prime.

 

Steve Berlin

Steve Berlin

Steve is a diehard baseball fan (Lets Go Mets!) who lives in New Jersey. Originally from Brooklyn, hegraduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics. Steve loves to focus on the sabermetrics side of baseball.He is also an avid music listener, and is always willing to debate music or sports.
Steve Berlin