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Wilmer Flores Reminding Mets Non-Tendering Him Was A Mistake

In the past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen opted to non-tender Wilmer Flores making the player who once cried at the thought of leaving the Mets a free agent. Last night, he not only returned to New York, but he would face the Mets for the first time. In the fifth inning last night, he would homer against his former teammate Jacob deGrom:

The homer was a bittersweet moment for Mets fans. In fact, there was a smattering of applause in the stands as the Mets still love and respected Wilmer. It should also be bittersweet because non-tendering him was a real mistake.

Looking back at it, Flores was a 0.5 WAR player last year. Given the construct of 1.0 WAR being worth $9 million on the free agent market, Flores was worth about $4.5 million last year, which coincidentally, was roughly what he would have been worth in arbitration.

But seeing what he was worth last year is not exactly the point. The point is when you look to sign a player, whether in free agency or arbitration, you are looking to pay for future value. With that in mind, It is important to remember Flores was a player turning 27 years old and entering his prime.

But it was more than just his entering his prime. He has cut down on his strikeouts and increasing his contact rate at the plate. It wasn’t just more contact, but it is also harder contact. It’s part of the reason why he had been above league average hitter. Part of that development as a hitter was his transitioning from being a platoon bat to being a player who could hit both right and left-handed pitching.

This is typically the part where someone jumps in to point out his defense. No, Flores is not a good defender. No one can or should claim he is. However, Flores has shown himself good at first base and passable at second. In a pinch, he is someone you could have play at third or short. No, not for more than a game or two, but there is value in his ability to stand there for a short duration.

Looking at the defense, we should remember he would have been depth on the Mets. He was a guy who could have been on the field when Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano went down. With Jeff McNeil‘s ability to play third and outfield, the Mets could have limited Flores to second. An important note here was he was a player who never complained about his role and was a good guy in the clubhouse. There is an immense amount of value in that.

We also know Flores has the clutch gene as the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits. In extra innings, Flores is a .378/.404/.667 hitter in extra innings. This, along with the crying and his being one the players who stayed on the field longest signing autographs, made him a beloved Mets player.

So far this year, Flores is a 0.7 WAR player. That’s a higher WAR than any current Mets bench player. This highlights the Mets mistake in letting him go, and that mistake is further exacerbated when you consider the Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings. As time elapses, the Mets are going to have to contend with Flores helping other teams and reminding the Mets of the mistake it was letting him go.

8 thoughts on “Wilmer Flores Reminding Mets Non-Tendering Him Was A Mistake”

  1. Luis S Venitucci says:

    Better WAR than cano…

  2. David Klein says:

    For a guy that whines about defense you sure do love an abhorrent defender.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      There’s a line between playing a terrible defender everyday and playing a guy sparingly.

  3. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Flores was replaced by the younger, faster, less expensive, and far harder exit velo of JD Davis who also plays outfield.

    Flores’s so called harder contact, is below average at 87.3.

    His career high occurred in 2017 @ 87.5

    baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/wilmer-flores-527038?stats=statcast-r-hitting-mlb

    MLB Average is 88.7.

    Pete Alonso averages 90.8

    https://www.mlb.com/player/pete-alonso-624413

    JD Davis 91.4.

    https://www.mlb.com/player/j-d-davis-605204

    Wilmer Flores is really great guy and clutch hitter, but Davis is better fit.

    Davis ought to focus this offseason on third base defense, improving foot speed and further improving in outfield. He should be able to increase foot speed to MLB average and overcome footwork and glovework issues at third. He should then be able to play an MLB average third base and make good use of his very strong arm.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Flores was replaced by a worse defender with a lower WAR despite having playing 40+ more games.

      He was replaced by a player with a historically unrepeatable BABIP and insane home/away splits.

      What Davis is doing is fool’s gold, and even with him performing at a level he can’t possibly sustain, he still has a lower WAR than Flores.

      Add in Davis costing three prospects, and this isn’t even debatable.

  4. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    “We also know Flores has the clutch gene…”

    There is no clutch gene. Clutch probably doesn’t exist. There is no remotely compelling evidence for it. Certainly Flores doesn’t have it.

    Career, runners in scoring position, over 580 plate appearances–an entire season–Flores’ OPS is only 86% the hitter he otherwise is. That’s terrible. If there’s “clutch,” this is “anti-clutch.”

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=florewi01&year=Career&t=b#bases::none

    With RISP and 2 out, Wilmer is even worse, with an OPS only 75% of his career OPS. His line w RISP and 2 out is a brutally bad .239/.303/.331.

    Or take Wilmer’s performance by Leverage situations: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=florewi01&year=Career&t=b#lever::none

    He’s only better than his typical performance in LOW leverage situations.

    Wilmer only excels, really, in a small number of walk-off situations, where in fewer than a dozen PAs he has done well. The rest of the time? He’s subpar, even by his modest standards. (Though I suppose wrt walk-offs if you can only excel in one place that’s the place to do it, but those have been very few and very far between compared to the much greater number of critical situations where he has failed his team.)

    There is no argument at all for Wilmer as a clutch hitter, while the totality of statistical evidence is not just against him, but pronouncedly against him. It’s easy to find this evidence, too. We keep track of every plate appearance by every player. We even put it in neat tables for everyone to look at, as here:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=florewi01&year=Career&t=b

    How is it possible this is still news, to anyone?

    *You cannot reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into. *

    1. metsdaddy says:

      We’ve seen Flores get a number of clutch hits, and he’s the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits. I’ll also note while it’s not statistically significant, his extra inning numbers are great.

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