Wilmer Flores – Just You Wait

I am a chronic off-season Mets rosterbater. Many of my potential Mets trade Tweets are far from rational. Some have included proposals for Troy Tulowitzki, which then leads to trading Daniel Murphy in order to open second base for a long-term competition between Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera.

In any case, Wilmer Flores is never included in my proposals. I believe he offers a ton of long-term value AND sufficient near-term value not to trade him.

First, David Wright’s shoulder may not hold up. Jeff Zimmerman provides this ominous MASH Report. Wilmer Flores should be kept as a third base solution if Wright misses significant time.

Second, Daniel Murphy might currently have the most perceived value to the Mets organization, but there are still a number of teams that require a better solution at second base, and Murphy is still a very good win-now solution for whichever team(s) do not land Ben Zobrist: Blue Jays, Nationals, Giants among others. Steamer projects Flores for .5 more WAR than Murphy as is and Flores has more room for growth.

Third, Dilson Herrera looks like he will be very good long-term, but he will only be 21 and could have contact issues for another year. It is on this point, where Wilmer Flores is already elite. Last year, for Major League hitters with 250+ Plate Appearances, Wilmer Flores had the 25th best contact rate (87.9%): .7% more than Robinson Cano and .1% less than Jonathan Lucroy for contact context.

While his Isolated Power was a tad-bit below the MLB average for the season, his ISO from mid-August onward was .205 relative to the MLB average of .135 or the average middle infielder ISO of .113 for the season. And let us not forget that he will only be 23 next year. He made 10% more contact than others 23 or younger last year.

Outside of Steamer, I haven’t seen one top 20 ranking for Wilmer Flores at shortstop yet (or any other infield position for that matter). Rotochamp ranked all positions deep enough where Flores showed up as the #32 shortstop and #37 second baseman. Faketeams has him as the 23rd best shortstop in their early position rankings. And without much hesitation, I think that Flores can outperform Asdrubal Cabrera, Brad Miller (based on playing time), Daniel Descalso (obviously) and Jed Lowrie whom are all ranked higher in Steamer by wOBA.

I think Wilmer Flores can provide value beyond Matt Carpenter next year contingent on his BABIP rebounding or if we are looking beyond runs produced (R+RBI-HR). Flores makes a little less contact, but has much more power potential. If we double Carpenter’s 2012 season, he basically averaged 11 homers and 3 stolen bases with a .305 batting average with an inflated .353 BABIP and .166 ISO for 2012 and 2013. Last year, Carpenter regressed back to a .318 BABIP and .103 ISO.

Steamer projects Flores for a .145 ISO and .270 BABIP. I will not call this Flores’ floor, but I will say that he has a much higher ceiling based on his BABIP potential. While he lacks speed (like Carpenter), a BABIP closer to his minor league average of .315 would mean a batting average closer to .275. While defensive shifts could limit his full BABIP potential, his batted ball spray looks healthy enough, and he already has a 20+% line drive rate in the majors.

Prior to Flores’ Triple-A season, which was even more impressive albeit in the Pacific Coast League, using a 250 Plate Appearance qualifier, Flores ranked #24 overall in Double-A with a .381 wOBA at 20 years old. The 23 hitters ahead of him averaged 24 years old. Only Jon Singleton was also 20 at the time.

Flores is relatively aggressive. Using 250 plate appearances as the qualifier, only 82 hitters had a higher swing%, but only two of those hitters made as much contact as Flores: Jose Altuve and Erik Aybar. Naturally, he has more power than both of them. Of those with a contact rate beyond Flores’, only Victor Martinez, Michael Brantley, Ian Kinsler, Martin Prado, Melky Cabrera, Stephen Vogt, and Jonathan Lucroy had a better ISO in 2014.

This is a recipe for success: a relatively aggressive approach at the plate with a great contact rate and above average, developing power. And as a middle infielder, he is a valuable fantasy asset. If Wright or Cuddyer miss time or Murphy gets traded, Wilmer Flores can consume a more impactful spot in the lineup which would up the counting stats. He was an excellent run producer in the minors with 75+ RBI’s as a 18-20 year old and 80+ RBI’s thrice.

Just you wait, but if he somehow winds up in Colorado as part of a Tulowitzki trade… pounce, because: Aggressive + Contact + Power + Colorado = we’ll have another Nolan Arenado on our hands:

Name Age K% Swing% Contact% SwStr% IFFB% HR/FB GB/FB GB% FB% LD% BABIP ISO
Nolan Arenado 23 12.40% 53.10% 84.7% 8.0% 15.2% 11.4% 0.90 37.6% 41.8% 20.6% 0.294 0.213
Wilmer Flores 22 11.30% 49.60% 87.9% 5.8% 8.7% 6.5% 0.99 39.7% 40.2% 20.1% 0.265 0.127

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Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter

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Josh Barnes
Member

Stole some of my thunder. Been working on a Flores piece for the Community section. I’m quite high on him this year to hit. In Colorado, yeah, he could be a High Avg, High HR monster.

RDG
Guest
RDG

Wil Flores being given away as not good enough reminds me of the Mets giving away Nelson Cruz, Kevin Mitchell, Quilvio Veras, Angel Pagan and a bunch of others who seemed to lack the ability to hit and/or filed enough and all four became solid players. Flores is insurance for Wright, a potential replacement for Murphy, and a seven inning shortstop if the Mets decide to wing it and see how the first half goes. I hate to think of seeing him as Texas or Oakland’s third baseman batting 26 91 .303 in 2017 or San Diego’s star second baseman with 20 87 .314 next to his name.