Wilmer Flores looks cromulent so what should the Mets do now?

mlb_g_flores_d1_200During Wednesday night’s broadcast, Gary Cohen suggested the Mets were keeping their options open, not concentrating on one particular position in their trade targets. Meanwhile, as Sandy Alderson was open to anything, Mark Trumbo was dealt. This is not to suggest that Alderson should have been in on Trumbo. It’s just to point out that deals are being made for MLB quality players. The idea that teams don’t want to trade now is simply not true.

It’s fun to come up with trade proposals to help the team. If only our GM felt the same way. Whether it’s Alderson’s stubbornness to deal prospects or other teams consistently trying to hold him up in deals – remember when the Diamondbacks wanted Noah Syndergaard for Didi Gregorius? Ha! – the one thing we know is true is that we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for a big deal involving the Mets.

So, instead of waiting for the cavalry to come via trade, we’re left exploring internal options. The good news is that both Travis d’Arnaud and Dilson Herrera will be playing rehab games in Hi-A St. Lucie beginning Thursday, June 4. Losing David Wright was a big blow symbolically; losing d’Arnaud was a bigger blow, production-wise. It’s wonderful news that he may be back with the Mets in a week or so.

But that still leaves the problem of what to do in the infield. Essentially, the Mets are playing three guys out of position as they wait to find out the timetable for Wright’s return. It’s likely that either Wilmer Flores or Daniel Murphy would have made the plays at third base Wednesday Ruben Tejada was unable to that instead became errors. Too bad Murphy was at 2B and Flores was at SS.

After an ugly first month in the field, Flores has settled down and made the routine plays, which was the hope coming into the year. Unfortunately, his offense has not been anything to make people happy. Yes, he’s run into a bunch of homers, which has made him an acceptable player overall the first one-third of the season. But it’s next to impossible to be a big offensive help when you bring a .277 OBP to the table.

Meanwhile, Tejada has been an offensive surprise – in a good way! – so far this year. In the limited sample size of 79 PA, Tejada has an .830 OPS. Even the biggest Flores supporter would admit that Tejada is likely a better defensive option at shortstop. So, if he’s the better defender and the better hitter, shouldn’t he play the position, regardless of who lines up at 2B and 3B?

In 2015, Tejada holds an .830 to .692 edge in OPS over Flores. Now, this is mostly the result of a hot streak for Tejada. In his last six games, he has 13 hits and a 1.172 OPS, thanks to a .542 BABIP. No one expects that to continue. But, Flores has hit safely in 17 of his last 20 games, so let’s not pretend he’s in the middle of some big slump. There’s something to be said for the guy who goes on a hot streak and puts up a four-digit OPS, like Tejada is doing right now. In Flores’ current hot streak he has a .693 OPS.

No one has ever confused Tejada for a good hitter. He has a lifetime .653 OPS. He may never have another six-game stretch as productive as the one he just completed. Tejada is the type of guy who you play and he won’t embarrass you out there but you’re still looking for an upgrade.

But here’s the thing. Essentially you can sub “Flores” for “Tejada” in the above paragraph and it’s still pretty much true, perception aside, as plenty of people have confused him for a good hitter, failing to take the appropriate air out of his PCL numbers.

But Flores essentially has the same lifetime OPS in the majors as Tejada, checking in with a .651 mark. His best six-game stretch this year produced a 1.174 OPS. Since he stopped botching easy plays on defense, Flores hasn’t been an embarrassment out there. And the Mets should be looking for an upgrade.

When Herrera returns, the Mets should play the rookie at second base and move Murphy over to third. And they can mix and match Flores and Tejada at short, generally playing the hot hand but playing Flores when extreme fly ball pitchers are on the mound, and also subbing in Tejada in the late innings of close games he did not start. No one’s ever confused Tejada for an iron man, so days off would be a good thing.

For a guy here for his bat, let’s start demanding playing time for Flores based on him hitting above a league-average SS. If we’re supposed to ignore Tejada’s current six-game streak because it’s out of character, let’s do the same thing with the six-game streak of Flores mentioned earlier. If we do that he has a .229/.252/.359 line for a .611 OPS in 163 PA this year. Tejada without his six-game streak has a .641 OPS. Baseball-Reference currently has the average NL shortstop with a .709 OPS this season.

The hope is that by riding the hot hand, the Mets end up with better overall numbers from the two-headed monster at short than they could get from either one individually. It’s not ideal; it’s making the best of a bad situation. Of course, Alderson could pull the trigger on a deal for a two-way player at shortstop and make all of this moot.

22 comments for “Wilmer Flores looks cromulent so what should the Mets do now?

  1. Name
    June 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    You’ve talked about how there are only 2 CF in history with an OPS under .650 that played there regularly.

    Flores now has 154 games played, with a 3.9% BB rate and .259 BABIP. I’m curious… how many players in general (at any position) have had a <5% walk rate and <.275 BABIP and played significant time in the majors?

    It just seems like the combo and no patience at the plate and slow on the basepaths would not last very long (and probably pretty uncommon too), even if it came with power.

    • June 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Unfortunately, the Play Index does not allow you to search BB% rates.

      Since 1980, there have been 287 players to amass at least 1,000 PA with a BABIP of .275 or less

      • June 4, 2015 at 2:33 pm

        You can sort by BB% on FanGraphs. There have been 137 players since 1980 to amass 1,000 PA with a BB% of 5.0% or less.

        Going thru by hand, I get 34 players who met your requirements here. That’s 34 out of 1,475 or a little over 2 percent. And three of those are pitchers (Maddux, Livan Hernandez and Valenzuela). The overwhelming majority are catchers and defense-first middle infielders. The biggest names among the 31 hitters are Bengie Molina and Frank White. The list mostly consists of guys like Yuniesky Betancourt, Doug Flynn and Tim Foli.

    • Mike B
      June 5, 2015 at 11:22 am

      On BABIP, you’d be surprised. Many of the all time greats had lower BABIP’s than BA. This is due to two things: few K’s and hr’s. So, Flores’ low BABIP is good, not bad. You want that. Of course, you’d like him to have a higher BA, but if he hit .280, with a .275 BABIP, he’d be in with some of the great, for example, the following had lower BABIP’s than BA for their career:

      Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Vladimir Guerrero all had lower lifetime BABIP’s than BA, and George Brett was close, with a BA of .305 and a BABIP of .307. Yogi had a BA of .285, and a BABIP of .262. I think people need a better understanding of BABIP. High BABIP is not good, but bad. In 1952, Yogi had 30 hr’s, 98 rbi’s, a BA of .273 and a BABIP of .243. You wouldn’t take that? When you don’t K and hit hr’s, your BABIP is low. When you do K and don’t hit hr’s, your BABIP is high. Granderson has a much higher BABIP than BA, because he K’s too much and doesn’t hit enough hr’s. Cuddy and Soup have high BABIP’s due to this as well. FYI, in ’52, Yogi had 66 BB’s and 24 K’s. Flores doesn’t have the BB’s, but he has the low K’s. Not that low, but second on the Mets after Murphy. Flores needs to hit higher, but low BABIP is fine, actually good. That’s why he’s been called an rbi machine. When you don’t miss the ball, good things happen.

      • Fast Freddy
        June 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

        You’re comparing Flores to Ted Williams!!!

        I’ve read some stupid things on this site but that deserves its own special category.

      • June 5, 2015 at 1:22 pm

        Perhaps Wilmer Flores was an RBI machine in the minors. But without a doubt he has not been one in the majors.

        There have been 155 batters so far this season to come up with at least 100 runners on base. Of those 155 batters, Flores ranks 131st in the percentage of them driven in with an 11.19 rate. He sits between two other RBI machines in Elvis Andrus and Yunel Escobar.

        Troy Tulowitzki ranks 8th in the majors with a 21.36 rate

  2. Eric
    June 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Seems to me no matter what he does, Flores will never satisfy you. For one, he is a SS, he’s not playing out of position. The early results I know are spotty but remember, he’s still only 23. He has played the bulk of his MiL games at SS and put up great offensive numbers everywhere he’s played. He frustrates me at times but I think he’ll only get better the more he plays.

    • June 4, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Your first sentence simply is not true. I did nothing but hammer Gavin Cecchini for two years because that’s what he deserved. Then he started performing well at the end of last year and I said so. Check out http://mets360.com/?p=22849. Then he continued his strong play this year and I said so. Check out http://mets360.com/?p=25718

      I’m a Mets fan. I don’t root for their players to stink; I want them all to be good. But the reality is that many of them aren’t going to be good and it’s not a crime to point out those who aren’t — especially those who get preferential treatment. If Flores wants to be considered an offensive star then he needs to hit like one. Right now he’s a below-average offensive shortstop.

      • Reese
        June 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        Preferential treatment? You mean the guy the brilliant manager benched after driving in six runs last year and who was sent up batting 8th most of his young career?

        • June 4, 2015 at 9:21 pm

          Flores had 6 RBIs on 9/16/14 and was in the starting lineup and played the entire game on 9/17/14. Flores was never benched, he had pre-determined days off — no different than Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer have had this year.

          Flores batting 8th was no different than what TC did with Matt den Dekker last year or Kevin Plawecki right now. It’s what he does.

          While none of those are examples of special treatment one way or the other, there are no shortage of instances where one guy was favored over another. Ike Davis was treated differently than Lucas Duda. Juan Lagares was treated differently than Collin Cowgill. John Buck was treated differently than the catchers that came directly before and after him. Dillon Gee has been catered too compared to Carlos Torres and Rafael Montero and Jenrry Mejia. And there are other examples but I think that’s enough.

  3. Metsense
    June 4, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Flores is a below average offensive shortstop, second baseman and third baseman compared to other teams infielders at those positions.
    Murphy is an above average offensive second baseman but when he moves over to third base there are many better offensive third baseman than him.
    Herrera is a rookie and although I am a big supporter, i can’t expect him to be a difference in 2015. It would be nice but not probable.
    Tejada is having a nice run and now showing he is a bench player.
    Flores, because of his pop, is a better bench player than Tejada.
    Flores is not the future at any starting position. Murphy is not the future at third base as his consistent bat is still not good enough at third. Hererra looks like the future at second base but that still remains to be seen. Herrera right now should start at Vegas and get his bat back after the injury before throwing him into a pennant race.
    The Mets still need an offensive upgrade at SS that fields better than Flores.

    • June 4, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Daniel Murphy has a .741 OPS. If he was a 3B, that would rank 12th in MLB at the position among qualified players. He would be slightly above average among starters at the position offensively.

  4. Eraff
    June 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I believe they’re leaving Flores “in-place” so that he can settle in and step up as a hitter.

    To my eyes, he’s an Ugly Hitter…..and he does run into some pitches with a bit of power. The “less than 5% walk rate” is a really, really bad number. It detracts from his OBP, but even moreso his ability to drive good ab’s.

    He needs to be a corner infielder…he will not be nimble enough for 2b. The Peralta comps are blind to the fact that Peralta is slower because he’s older, but he has higher athleticism and basic ability…. there’s not a lot other than hope in the comparo.

    Flores has some appeal as a 4 position IF who can give you 350-400 ab’s.

    • Larry Smith
      June 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I agree with Eraff.
      Wilmer can never be an acceptable answer as anyone’s #1 SS. He can be a utility infielder.

  5. June 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Everyone needs to lay off on Flores.
    Give him the full year to add to sample size, then react.

    Us fans sometimes think we know it all…we don’t.
    The kid will improve defensively the more he plays, and write this down :

    .270 BA / 20 HR’s / 70 RBI……when was the last time you saw those numbers for a Met SS ? Exactly……

    • TexasGusCC
      June 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

      +1

  6. pal88
    June 4, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Cromulent?

  7. pal88
    June 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Cromulent?…wouldn’t it have been easier to say acceptable?…I’m sure most readers ran for the dictionary….

  8. Eric
    June 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Instead of cromulent how about degromulent meaning like Jacob DeGrom? After all it is a made up word.

    • June 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      While cromulent is a made up word – it does have a specific meaning and it was exactly what I wanted.

  9. June 4, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    You don’t have to be an iron man when you go in to be a defensive substitute 80-90 percent of the time. Give Flores at least 1 day off per week and the system will work. And can someone in management who has a baseball acumen explain how it is better to have 3 infielders play out of position? Does wonders for a pitchers psyche. Flores is better suited to play 3rd base with his lack or range and Herrera starts at 2nd base.

  10. Eric
    June 5, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Have a little patience my friend, he’s only 23. Be careful of developing a final opinion based on a relatively small sample. Sometimes your best option is the one staring you in the face.

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