Comparing Wilmer Flores to other young Mets hitters

Wilmer FloresWith eight games remaining in the 2013 season, Wilmer Flores has 96 PA here in his MLB debut. His production has been nothing to write home about; however, the fact that he’s in the majors at such a young age is certainly enough for us to sit up and take notice. Let’s take a look into Mets’ history and see which players came up and produced 100 PA or more in their rookie season at age 22 or younger.

There have been 30 seasons in franchise history to meet these parameters, by 28 different players. Some of the biggest names in franchise history, like Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry and David Wright, came up and saw significant time at a young age. But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, as Kevin Collins, Fernando Martinez and Billy Murphy area also on the list.

Let’s break them up into five groups of six, sorted by their OPS+:

Group A
1988 Gregg Jefferies (178), Strawberry (134), Wright (119), John Milner (119), 1982 Wally Backman (115), 1980 Backman (115)

Group B
Ron Hunt (110), 1989 Jefferies (106), Ron Swoboda (103), Reyes (102), Mike Jorgensen (93), Ken Boswell (93)

Group C
Lenny Dykstra (89), Alex Trevino (88), Lee Mazzilli (88), Nick Evans (85), Edgardo Alfonzo (82), Bud Harrelson (80)

Group D
Lastings Milledge (78), Murphy (71), Brian Giles (63), Ruben Tejada (62), Tim Foli (59), Ed Kranepool (57)

Group E
Wayne Garrett (56), Carlos Gomez (55), Collins (54), Jose Oquendo (42), Martinez (38), Amos Otis (13)

We see that the players we think of as being the team’s biggest stars – Reyes, Strawberry, Wright – all landed in the top two groups. Flores currently has a 53 OPS+, which would put him in the last group.

People will undoubtedly point out that the Mets traded away Group E players Otis and Gomez and both went on to star for other clubs. That’s a fact. Also true is that the Mets gave up on Collins and Martinez and did not regret those decisions.

With Flores, one of the keys to his value as a prospect has always been how he was young for his level. You can only advance to the majors and at some point you stop being young for that level. Flores has not reached that point yet. However, it’s hard not to notice how other Mets prospects at similar ages really out-produced Flores in their rookie seasons.

Barring a trade, Flores likely will be eligible for this list a second time, joining Backman and Jefferies as repeat performers. Both of those players had better debut seasons for the Mets and while both went on to lengthy MLB careers, neither made an All-Star team.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to draw any definitive conclusions from this list. However, this should be included as a piece of evidence. Yes, Flores’ youth still works in his favor. But in my eyes a 53 OPS+ in the majors is a bad sign. Yes, he’s playing with a sore ankle and it wouldn’t be surprising if that has hurt his production.

But as we saw earlier this month, Flores’ production at Las Vegas was merely average among the players who played for both Triple-A and the Mets this season. His numbers are both PCL and Las Vegas boosted and a lot of air needs to be taken out of them to properly evaluate his Triple-A numbers in a major league context.

And when you come down to it, what little major league context we do have has not been kind to Flores, even when you factor age into things.

12 comments for “Comparing Wilmer Flores to other young Mets hitters

  1. NormE
    September 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I agree, Brian. He’s slow and the ball just doesn’t seem to jump off his bat. Maybe the bad ankle is hampering his hitting but he’s always been slow. His biggest asset is his age, but that’s not going to get better.

  2. Za
    September 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the article, but what’s the point exactly? Filling space?

    “But in my eyes a 53 OPS+ in the majors is a bad sign. Yes, he’s playing with a sore ankle and it wouldn’t be surprising if that has hurt his production.”

    Flores was hitting the snot out of the ball before he messed up his ankles, and the dude can barely walk right now. It’s unsurprising he’s not hitting the ball well right now. Next you’re going to say you’re disappointed with D’Arnaud (and his atrocious BABIP).

    Let’s be a little bit less critical and a little bit more pragmatic/rational – cool?

    • September 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Wilmer Flores played all of six games before he hurt his ankle. And I’m not sure what universe a .755 OPS equals “hitting the snot out of the ball.”

      He can barely walk right now? How much hyperbole can you pack in a short post? He’s playing the field and running the bases.

      I’m sorry that Flores is not hitting better. I want all guys who play for the Mets to be stars. The sad fact is that most of them fall short of that bar. But it’s not being critical to point out what Flores has actually done to this point in his career falls far short of other 21-22 year olds in team history. It’s simply what happened so don’t shoot the messenger.

  3. steevy
    September 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    What Flores did was knock in a bunch of runs in his first few games,making it appear he was hitting better than he was.

    • Eraff
      September 22, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      I don’t believe we should rush to judgement regarding his bat—he IS very young and I believe he has a very good chance to HIT—Running and Fielding a Position is a very big question mark.

      He may have been well served to switch to Catcher as a very young Minor Leaguer…at this point, he looks like a Corner IF/DH

  4. AJ
    September 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Hard to tell at this point what Flores will eventually be, but it’s true enough he hasn’t made much of an impression the little bit we’ve seen of him this season. Factored into any evaluation of him has to be the reality that the Mets don’t really have a position for him. He’s not going to play third, there’s at least one too many guys already standing at first and the organization decided long ago that he wasn’t cut out for being a big league SS. Murphy at second is doing an adequate job defensively and has proven himself to be a legitimately potent bat in the upper third of the lineup. I hope the Mets hold on to him. Trading Murphy because he’s got trade value and slotting Flores in his place might be a reasonable roll of the dice, but I’d hate to see it. I want to watch that Murphy – Wright – (fill in the name of a legitimate power bat here) sequence in the lineup for years to come.

  5. September 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I still have faith that Flores will be a major league asset for the Mets.

  6. DC
    September 23, 2013 at 11:45 am

    FWIW, Jeffries never made the All Star team as a Met, but he was an All Star twice with St. Louis.

  7. Metsense
    September 24, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Flores is 22 yoa taking his first sip of coffee. DePodesto says prospects need to force their way onto the team. So far Flores is not pushing Murphy but there is plenty of time. Based on the minor league stats and what has been seen so far, Flores ceiling may be what Murphy is producing now.

  8. September 26, 2013 at 8:07 am

    The irony is that the more inconsistent Flores plays the harder it will be to move him in a packaged deal.

  9. Sean Flattery
    October 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I think the kid has a future…just probably not with Mets

  10. Jerry Grote
    October 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up ~ Vince Lombardi

    In 100 ABs, Flores was on the whole overwhelmed here. But here’s what we know about this man:
    * He’s been playing away from home since he was 16.
    * He’s accumulated nearly 3200 plate appearances
    * He’s always been good for 500+ plate appearances in a season
    * Other than a single year, his arc has been improving every year.
    * He’s accomplished this, despite never being given a position to play.

    He’s never struck out as many times as he did in the big leagues. Is he overmatched? Quite possible. There’s 3000 plate appearances to suggest it was a 100 AB aberration and that he’s closer to B than C.

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