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NY Mets: Did Wilmer Flores get a fair chance in Flushing?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 26: Wilmer Flores #4 of the New York Mets in action against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on August 26, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. The Nationals defeated the Mets 15-0. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 26: Wilmer Flores #4 of the New York Mets in action against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on August 26, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. The Nationals defeated the Mets 15-0. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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When the New York Mets designated Wilmer Flores for assignment following the 2018 season, an era of joy, rainbows, and unicorns ended in Flushing. During his six seasons with the club, Flores became a fan-favorite with the organization. He had a propensity to come up with big, timely hits. Often, they were in walk-off situations.

An infielder with no real position over the years, Flores bounced around in the lineup plenty. Primarily a third baseman one year and a shortstop the next, the Mets never could find a place to play him regularly.

However, they knew his bat was talented enough to warrant playing time. He finally began to get more of it in 2015 when he jumped from 274 plate appearances to a career-high 510.

Flores continued to play regularly for the Mets, but he never did seem to clutch onto a starting gig. His time with the team concluded with a .262/.303/.424 slash line. While not outlandishly brilliant, Flores was incredibly consistent. This raises an important question: did he get a fair chance?

Wilmer Flores is what Mets baseball is all about

You can’t ask a legitimate Mets fan the question about Flores and get a fully unbiased answer, can you? Flores is impossible to hate. His July 2015 tears alone make you want to run out onto the field, hug him, and whisper that everything is going to be all right.

The decision to DFA Flores came as one of the first moves under the Brodie Van Wagenen regime. It caught people off guard yet came with a justification. Flores was dealing with a knee issue.

Fast-forward to the start of the 2019 season and we see the knee issue wasn’t such a problem after all. Flores hit .317/.361/.487 for the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first year away from New York. Although he saw limited action with just 285 trips to the plate, he added nine home runs to his stat sheet.

Wilmer Flores is an underrated power hitter

Flores never struck me as the ideal infielder. He will enter the 2021 season with only four career stolen bases. He managed to swipe three of them in a Mets uniform.

Instead, Flores was a poor OBP guy who could hit with some decent pop. Lifetime, he’s averaging 20 trips around the bases per every 162 games or 561 plate appearances. It’s not exactly the most desirable total for the middle of a lineup but definitely a nice number to see from a guy not really known for going yard.

With 16 home runs in 335 opportunities in 2016 and another 18 in 362 plate appearances in 2017, I’m left wondering if Flores ever reached his true potential as a lighter-slugger. If he was able to find a position, the man would have been well on his way to potentially reaching 30.

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It’s all hindsight now. Flores is two seasons removed from the Mets and doing well with the San Francisco Giants. The Mets certainly gave him a chance but with the unceremonious ending after the 2018 campaign, I can’t help but wonder if they could have done a little more.

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