Wilmer Flores Getting It Together At Perfect Time For New York Mets


Wilmer Flores Is On A Hot Streak At The Plate, And It Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time For The New York Mets

Wilmer Flores was facing immense pressure coming into the season. The New York Mets were shaping up as a potential darling for the 2015 season, signing Michael Cuddyer to bolster the outfield in addition to a lights out starting rotation. Flores was looked at as the wild card, and a position that the Mets should upgrade at during the winter.

They tried everything in their power to land an upgrade at shortstop. They scoured the free agent market, but found nothing that peaked their interest. They worked the phones on the trade market, dangling starting pitcher Dillon Gee, but receiving no bites. While the Mets made it look like they were trying to upgrade, could they have secretly been comfortable with Flores the whole time?

The free agent market didn’t have much to offer, as the top players were arguably Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie. Both players have flaws, such as Cabrera more than likely not being fit to be an everyday shortstop, and Lowrie not presenting much of an upgrade over Flores, especially not at the price they would have to pay him compared to Flores.

The trade market is flush with plenty of options, headlined by Troy Tulowitzki and Starlin Castro. Lesser known players such as Alexei Ramirez and Didi Gregorius could have been had as well, as the crosstown New York Yankees actually traded for Gregorius. But would the cost of those players be worthwhile for the Mets? Prospects, and good ones, would have been shipped out just to move Flores out of the starting lineup. The Mets deemed that too steep of a price, and rightfully so.

Flores deserved a chance to prove himself before the Mets moved on from him. This clamoring for a shortstop sounded nice, but the Mets have not only this season, but future ones to worry about. Just shipping out top-tier prospects before giving Flores a chance would have been poor management, and something the Mets would have regretted down the road.

So Flores was given the starting job, and in typical Mets fashion, he struggled mightily at the start. The Mets had always worried about his glove, as Flores is not a natural shortstop, and expected hiccups in the field from time to time. What they were not prepared for though was the struggles at the plate combined with struggles in the field.

Flores committed three errors in the field in the early going, as he struggled with throws over to first base. He doesn’t have problems actually fielding the ball, it is a hitch in his throwing motion that causes problems, especially when he has time to think about it. He was extremely erratic when throwing the ball, and it could also have been because he was taking his struggles from the plate with him out to the field.

Through the first eight games of the season, Flores struggled mightily at the dish. He managed to slash only .160/.250/.200, with only one extra base hit, two walks and seven strikeouts. He scored three runs and knocked in zero RBI despite players such as Travis d’Arnaud, David Wright and Lucas Duda having strong seasons ahead of him.

Apr 11, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores (4) makes a throw to retire Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis (22) (not shown) during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

He was then rested on April 15th in the series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies. That day the Mets also learned that they would be without their captain and starting third baseman Wright, as he was forced to the 15-Day DL with a pulled hamstring. Coincidentally, that is also when something finally clicked for Flores at the plate and he began turning things around.

The Mets were desperate for players to step up in the absence of Wright, and Flores seemed ready for the task. Since that day, Flores has been on a tear at the plate. He is 8-19 (.421 BA) and riding a five-game hitting streak, getting one in every game he has appeared in since. Included in those hits are his first three home runs and seven RBI on the season. He has raised his slash line to .273/.319/.500 with only two strikeouts over that period of time.

With his current power surge, Flores now is leading the Mets in home runs on the season, with three, and is tied for second in runs with eight.

He has also not committed an error since, as he has done a solid job at shortstop. He keeps the ball in front of him, and has solid mechanics while fielding the ball. He still does the double-tap in his glove on throws, but he has been able to get them on target now at least to Duda at first base.

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While the fielding may always been an adventure for Flores, he has gotten it going at the right time for the Mets. With d’Arnaud following Wright to the 15-Day DL this past weekend because of a fractured right hand, the Mets needed players to step up to replace the production of two of their hottest hitters from the start of the season.

Flores has answered the call, as every home run he has hit during this streak has come in a game the Mets have won by a combined four runs. He has come through when the Mets needed him most during the last week, and will continue to need his production with two starters out.

The Mets are hoping he can deliver more nights like he did Wednesday, when he had an RBI single and home run, basically carrying the Mets offense to a victory that night. For Flores and the Mets, his surge at the plate could not have come at a better time, as people were beginning to get restless but he has quieted all of the doubters with his current hot streak.

Next: Where do the Mets rank in our MLB Power Rankings?

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