What should we expect offensively from Wilmer Flores?

Wilmer FloresShortstop has been a black hole for the Mets in 2014 and they have decided to punt defense and go with their best internal option by promoting long-time prospect Wilmer Flores from Triple-A. Flores is riding a hot streak where in his last eight games he has a 1.500 OPS thanks to seven extra-base hits in his last 29 ABs.

For the season, Flores has a .307/.360/.500 line, which would be wonderful if it was produced in Buffalo but since it was put up in Las Vegas it’s another story completely. When you look at all the batters, including pitchers, for Las Vegas, an .860 OPS is just barely above average. As a team, Las Vegas has an .850 OPS so far in 2014.

There are 11 hitters besides Flores to amass at least 50 PA for Las Vegas and six of them have a higher OPS. Andrew Brown, Allan Dykstra and Taylor Teagarden all have a four-digit OPS and few are clamoring for their promotions to the big club.

Unfortunately, since the Mets moved to the desert, they’ve found that for their hitters what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Last year 11 players had at least 75 PA for both New York and Las Vegas and here were their marks in both places, with players listed in order of descending PA in Triple-A:

Player PCL Majors
Wilmer Flores .887 .542
Kirk Nieuwenhuis .809 .615
Ruben Tejada .716 .519
Josh Satin .911 .781
Mike Baxter .898 .553
Andrew Brown 1.093 .688
Omar Quintanilla .903 .589
Ike Davis 1.091 .661
Juan Lagares .929 .633
Travis d’Arnaud 1.041 .548
Lucas Duda .778 .767

Not one player posted a higher OPS in the majors than he did in the minors, which is not a huge shock. What is alarming is how six of the 11 saw a loss of over 300 points of OPS with their move to the majors and three others had drops of 194 or more. Only Satin and Duda had what we would consider “normal” drops associated with being promoted to the big leagues.

Research done last year suggested that a quick-and-dirty estimation is to expect a 25% drop in OPS going from Las Vegas to New York. With Flores having an .860 OPS in Triple-A, that would be a .645 OPS in the majors. So, adjust your expectations for Flores accordingly.

Still, it seems a good bet that Flores will exceed what Quintanilla (.499 OPS) and Tejada (.509) have produced offensively for the Mets this season. The plan seems to be to start Flores and if it’s a close game late, bring in Tejada as a late-inning replacement for defense.

Seems like a good plan except for one thing: Tejada is not particularly good on defense. Anecdotally, we’ve seen him botch several DP chances here in the beginning of 2014 and objectively, he carries a (-15.7) UZR/150 here in the early going. His defense is likely not that bad; still, he has a lifetime (-0.9) UZR/150 at SS.

Quintanilla has a slightly better defensive mark – lifetime (0.4 UZR)/150 – and has the benefit of batting lefty, typically an edge in late-inning matchups. So, why was he given a DFA while Tejada gets to remain in the majors?

It’s easy to say age, as Tejada is eight years younger. But perhaps the Mets want to free up a roster spot. Neither Rafael Montero nor Noah Syndergaard are currently on the 40-man roster. While the Mets do have an easy spot to free up – by moving Bobby Parnell to the 60-day DL – this would give the club even more flexibility.

18 comments for “What should we expect offensively from Wilmer Flores?

  1. Jerry Grote
    May 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I figure he’ll debit the team one hit per every two games he plays, either by making an error, not getting to a ball, or failure in processing a double play ball. Possibly more.

    When considering that his hitting will drop 200-250 OPS points, I’m thinking that its an even wash with Tejada – one hit (a single) per eight plate appearances. 880 OPS – 250 MLBe = 630.

    630 – 125 (1 for 8), or 515. We made some motion but got nowhere.

    • Jerry Grote
      May 8, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Return Lagares to SS, Chris Young to CF.

      Or, of course, dare I repeat myself once again? There’s this slick fielding, fairly good hitting, lefty batting SS that went to the World Series last year that is sitting by the phone …

      • May 8, 2014 at 5:28 pm

        I did an update to the piece since you posted, figuring out a .645 OPS.

        The idea of Lagares back at SS has to be at least considered, especially if the Mets fall way out of the playoff race. I mean, how much worse than Duda in the OF can it be?

        • Chris F
          May 8, 2014 at 5:34 pm

          a lot. Theres a lot of traffic at short, and not having had turned a DP in ages, its a huge demand on footwork to avoid injury.

          We finally have a decent hitting (apparently) lead of CF who can catch anything. Im not in favor of changing that at all. Lagares plays CF. Besides, the arms of Young, Young, and Granny are far short of Lagares.

  2. Chris F
    May 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    and as to your article title, Im with JG. Its basically shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I want to see a trade for Chris Owings, and Im ready to part with Wheeler to make it happen.

    • Jerry Grote
      May 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      you know, I was thinking about those exact words, shuffling the deck chairs.

  3. Metsense
    May 8, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Flores should then come in at around .650 OPS with more slugging than Tejada. I’ll take it because it is an offensive improvement. The move is a desperation move and a result of poor roster planning on the part of Sandy.It is a move that I reluctantly accept because of this.
    I agree that right now Q is the better option over Tejada to stay on the roster but he really isn’t major league quality either. The correct move was to either sign Drew or trade and that correct move should have occurred over the past winter. The Davis non trade over the winter was another poor decision. The Mets are a surprising 16-17 in a wide open division and should seize any opportunity to improve. As I posted earlier today, Mejia to the bullpen, deGrom to the bullpen, Montero to the rotation, Rice demoted. I would also bring Campbell in for Satin and Niuwenhuis (or Brown) for Abreu. In other words, at least do some proactive changes to show the team and fans that losing isn’t acceptable.
    “ESPN Stats & Information’s Mark Simon computed early Wednesday that Mets opponents have a .278 batting average on groundballs — highest in MLB. That’s undoubtedly attributable in some substantial part to a lack of infield range. ”
    Since the Mets are last with the current shortstops then WTH.

  4. meticated
    May 8, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    I’m open minded about Flores and his range…With good anticipation and correct positioning, he can mitigate his lack of athleticism because of his bulk. .but he’s a natural shortstop and his learning curve is fairly flat..His bat and eye will more than compensate for his weaknesses. ..and he will keep pitchers from pitching around him when he sprays the ball with power. ..I’m excited to see any changes to the putrid offense and swap abreu for Campbell next…satin for dykstra in turn…why not…?

  5. Jim OMalley
    May 8, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Lets give it a whirl. After Q booted the ball against Miami on Tues night, I was done with him.

  6. May 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    The Mets were defensively getting poor play with both Ruben and Q. I don’t really feel they will do any better or worse defensively with Flores. But offensively he’s a serious run producer, and know how to get on base, this they desperately need. i just hope managemant doesn’t sit him on the bench like they did with Newie when he was brought back. Flores is hot now: They have to play him. Peralta, Migel Tejada and Jetter all were hitter, and just average or below defensively, but really sparked their teams offense.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  7. May 8, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    The Met owners felt they could make extra bucks having AAA in Vegas. You’re absolutely right its a tough place to judge both batting and pitching performance. The only players I’m sure of are Montero and DeGroom because of there strike out to walk ratio. Cashmen Field isn’t the only lunching pad in the PCL and half the majors have teams playing there. Flores has hit every place he played. His critic overlook the fact that when he was up in the majors last year he played on a bad ankle. Prior to the injury he was averaging an RBI a game. Again I say they have to play him and not sit him on the bench.

    • May 9, 2014 at 6:01 am

      The reason the Mets are in Las Vegas has nothing to do with money. Buffalo, their previous affiliate, felt the Mets didn’t give them enough veteran players to win. So when their contract expired, they searched for a different partner. When all was said and done, the only spot left for the Mets was Las Vegas. It was the last seat on the bus.

      • Patrick Albanesius
        May 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

        Why is it that this is a common theme with the Mets? We have to settle for Vegas because our Triple-A affiliate doesn’t want to do business with us anymore. We go from a major FM radio station to AM behind ultra-conservative firebrands. We are a major-market team, and articles like one (http://www.metstoday.com/9437/mets-2014-games/the-mets-gone-in-ten-years/) are questioning whether this team will even be here in 10 years. I’m happy that the team is showing some improvement and willingness to change quicker than previous years, but my faith in how this organization is run is standing on thin ice right now.

        • May 9, 2014 at 11:41 am

          It’s less than ideal that we are in Vegas but I don’t feel bad that we’re not in Buffalo anymore. At the time, I compared Buffalo to a girlfriend that you constantly had to tell she was pretty. It’s too bad for the area that Buffalo didn’t get an expansion team back in ’93 but the inferiority complex it carries on today because of that doesn’t make it a good affiliate. Hopefully we can get back in the Eastern Time Zone next year.

          As for the radio station, the surprise isn’t that they switched to the Yankees – the surprise is that it didn’t happen earlier.

          Didn’t read the article but I would bet every penny I own that the Mets will still be here in 10 years.

          • Jerry Grote
            May 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm

            Being a Buffalonian, I’d offer its a bit more than just an inferiority complex Brian.

            The team and town has always been proud to sport one of the better examples in minor league stadiums in baseball. They had maintained a reputation of being one of the best draws for quite some time, regularly bringing in over 1MM fans. In Buffalo, that’s no small issue. Minor league players regularly comment how fortunate they are to have a chance to play here.

            Was Buffalo a bad match for an affiliate? Apparently other teams haven’t felt that way. The ownership of the minor league team isn’t a group that is short on capital (the Rich family is wealthy enough to be considering ownership of the Bills, with the passing of Mr. Wilson). One of the two organizations failed to deal in good faith on delivering a product, and the other is committed to this town and to actually delivering great products around the world.

            Maybe a needy girlfriend, given who we are and what we offer. And maybe an abusive boyfriend, and we can leave it at that.

            • May 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

              Everyone knows that PR and community relations is not a particularly strong suit for the current Mets ownership.

  8. Name
    May 8, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Likely Tejada is still on the roster because the FO values OBP, and by batting in front of the pitcher he has a .302 OBP.
    Don’t think we should expect much from Flores. Had a .542 OPS last year, and will expect something like that this year.

  9. SL
    May 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Sort of ridiculous. Flores OPS last year was significantly better in what would be considered his AAA season. Like most would expect, he started slowly down there after being jerked around by the team. He simply never should have been sent down and was stale at AAA with nothing left to prove. The same issue that is occurring with Montero.

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