Wilmer Flores is able to play all four infield positions. He is also an above average contact hitter. Why do the Mets platoon him only against left handers? Let’s take a look at some of his splits from last season.
Wilmer Flores 2016 Splits
There is a large boost in his production when facing a left-handed pitcher. In fact, Wilmer was one of the top five power hitters against southpaws last season. Averaging one home run every eight plate appearances against them.
Look at these heat maps, from the pitcher’s perspective, encompassing the last two seasons of Flores slugging. The first is against left handers and the second is against right handers.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. The heat maps are from Fangraphs.
Wilmer Flores vs the Mets
Last year, Flores season was shortened because of a hamate bone injury that required surgery. Over the winter he refused the contract the Mets offered him and took the team to arbitration. Something that the team usually tries to avoid. He beat the Mets, the first time that GM Sandy Alderson had lost an arbitration case. Wilmer will be paid $2.2 million dollars for 2017.
He wants to be an everyday player. In his defense, his overall contact percentage last year was 84.4 compared to a league average of 78.2. Wilmer does put the bat on the ball. Earlier this spring he told Newsday:
When you’re out there playing every day, it makes everything easier. I know I can play at the big-league level . . . I know I can play every day. But it’s not my choice whenever it comes to when I play.
Mets Infield 2017
There are questions all over the Mets infield. Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are coming off back injuries. Asdrubal Cabrera has a balky knee. David Wright has been a one-man MASH unit the last two seasons. Jose Reyes has had past leg problems and it’s unknown how effective he’ll be over a full season. Wilmer Flores will probably have another chance to prove he can be an everyday player.
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Photo by slgckgc