Why is Wilmer Flores on the New York Mets‘ roster?
Flores was brought up from Triple-A to give the Mets more offense at shortstop on May 9. He was raking at Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .307/.360/.500 with five home runs. Since joining the Mets, however, he’s hardly played. He has to play consistently to get into a groove at the plate, but sporadic playing time has led to a .233/.263/.301 slash line at the major league level.
After starting two straight games on May 9 and 10, manager Terry Collins put Ruben Tejada back in at short. Tejada responded over the next week by playing better defense and getting on base at a .360 clip. If he was motivated by the arrival of Flores, that’s great. He’s hit .250/.367/.370 since Wilmer’s promotion. But Flores has more potential, not only to hit for average, but for power, which is something Tejada will never do.
Flores had 253 extra-base hits in his seven-year minor league career. Tejada had 117. Acknowledging Flores had about 1,000 more plate appearances, that’s still a significant gap. Among those extra-base hits, Flores had 53 more home runs. No one doubts that Flores has the potential to be a force with his bat, but no one believes that about Tejada right now.
If Tejada can keep his OBP around .350-.360, that would be fine if he plays stellar defense. But his defense is merely average by any measure — statistically or by observation. Flores is clearly a below-average shortstop, but if he fulfills his potential as a hitter, his defense will become less of a factor. The only way the Mets will know if he can excel as a hitter is if he plays.
Tejada’s defense is not good enough to make up for his questionable bat. But if Flores can hit the way many scouts and talent evaluators think he can, it would be enough to make up for his questionable defense and provide a boost to a Mets lineup that desperately needs it.