Wilmer Flores has taken notable steps forward this season and could be in a position for increased playing time next year
As the Mets enter the final month of the season, there is more than enough of a sample this year to state the following. Wilmer Flores deserves to be an everyday player, most likely as the starting second baseman, when the Mets open 2018.
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Let’s start with what Flores has accomplished. In 2017, he has shown a sizable improvement against right-handed pitching. Flores slashed .232/.289/.353 against righties in 2016. Entering September of this year, that line has jumped to .260/.305/.449. 10 of his 17 home runs this year have come against right-handed pitching. Plus, we’ve all seen his consistent ability to hit southpaws (.291 clip this season).
Flores just turned 26 last month and all his offensive numbers have continued to tick upward. Defensively, Flores is much better suited for second base going forward than third where the Mets have a bigger hole to fill. However, it also sets up well for Flores to potentially be the everyday second baseman next year.
T.J. Rivera’s injury status is up in the air. If Rivera requires Tommy John surgery, then it will obviously be a while before he is back. Asdrubal Cabrera looks like he may have his option picked up, but he could be asked to play more at third if the Mets don’t go out and sign a third baseman or trade for one this winter. Jose Reyes is a free agent and Gavin Cecchini could profile as a backup to Flores.
It’s been an interesting road for Flores, who won an arbitration case against the Mets in the off-season. That caused things to get off to a seemingly rocky start this year between Flores and Terry Collins. Over the course of the season, Flores made his way into the lineup and has continued a consistent level of play despite the bad season and changing makeup of the roster.
Flores is on pace to play in about 130 games this season for the Mets. That’s just shy of his career-high 137 games in 2015. Also of note, he has 78 starts. That said, Flores has a great chance to end up with 20 homers and 20 doubles as a part-time starter. He currently stands at 17 in both categories entering the final month.
This off-season will be Flores’ second year of arbitration eligibility. He won’t become a free agent until 2020 so we’ll see how things play out this time around. That’s another story for another time. One thing’s for sure. When it’s come to working on becoming a more well-rounded hitter, Flores is checking the boxes. In the process, he’s making a valid case for consistent playing time next year.