Wilmer Flores Owns Worst On Base Percentage Of Past 30 Years

In the past 30 years, 88 Mets have accumulated 600 career at bats. None have a lower on-base percentage than Wilmer Flores. In fact, Flores' .280 career mark ranks 76th worst out of 1603 players over the past 30 years (min. 600 PA) across all of baseball. That's really bad.

In context, here are some of the names around him on the league-wide rankings:
Not exactly Murderer's Row here. 

and here is Flores' company in the top five worst Mets by OBP since 1985 (min. 600 ABs):

Yes, Rey Ordonez out-OBPd Wilmer Flores' current rate while a Met. 

Yes, perhaps this is cherry-picking a bit. Flores does plenty well on the diamond. He hits home runs, provides the middle of the order with a nice power threat, does not strike out too much and has proved to be a solid second baseman. I crusaded against Flores as a shortstop (for a year. A full year. And for good reason) but as a second baseman I do not mind him.

As a hitter I kind of do. He has a career walk rate of 4.2% (which is awful, for those of you unfamiliar with walk rates. League average is 8-10%). He also does not hit for a high average which makes his offensive contribution well below league average despite his power.

In fact, his wRC+ for his career sits at 85. For reference, light-hitting outfielder Juan Lagares is also at 85 for his career. Ruben Tejada is barely behind them both at 84. Josh Thole...85. Jason Bay...91. Yes. Jason Bay was 6% better offensively than Wilmer Flores. Here is his company:

The Mets have given 22 players at least 600 at bats who contributed sub-90 wRC+ (or under 10% below league average, offensively). Flores is right in the middle of that group. Take a look at the hitters ahead (better offensively) than Flores on the list. Paul Lo Duca, Jason Bay and Josh Thole stand out to me. Only one worse hitter on this list, Kaz Matsui, rates as a below-average defender. Flores blurs that line. 

The sample size for Wilmer Flores is getting significant. I am not ready to "give up on him" just yet as we both need him at second while Dilson Herrera rounds out his game in the minors and I also believe that his plus bat-speed has to eventually result in a better BABIP which should lead to a better average and better overall numbers.

However, for a grade-30 (I might even be generous with that) runner and a defender I still rate as well below average (though much better at second than short), he has to hit more than this. He absolutely has to walk more than this. He simply has to get on base more and create more runs. Otherwise, he's another Ruben Tejada at the plate and far worse with the glove. The current Mets team cannot support that in the middle of the lineup. Especially a lineup that also has Ruben Tejada, Juan Lagares, an increasingly useless Michael Cuddyer and streaky veterans like Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.

The 2015 Mets are built on pitching. However, as we have learned in the season's first half, runs are important. There are few hitters in all of baseball that have contributed less to scoring runs than Wilmer Flores over the past 200 games or so. Why fans continue to give him a pass but criticize a plus defender for putting up comparable offensive numbers is beyond me. I might be jumping ship far too early and could get burned for this, but I cannot help but look at Dilson Herrera as my 2B of the future and Flores a bench/utility piece or attractive trade bait. Someone will look at his positional "versatility" and power as attractive. I will gladly give that away for a player who will produce more runs.

Sounds off in the comments.



eraff said...

There's really not much to say, other than to hope that he's demonstrating his FLOOR, not his Ceiling

Thomas Brennan said...

That sort of stat is ugly. He can't stay there indefinitely. Time to get that into at least the low .300s going forward.

Kevin S said...

I'd like to see how the numbers looks for similar 23 years olds with 600 PAs already. Mainly the ones who aren't top prospects like Bryce Harper. I'd be willing to bet that the numbers aren't great.

I'm not willing to give up on Wilmer yet but he definitely doesn't have a long leash. No one on the team does.

bob gregory said...

It would be interesting to compare his numbers to the team's numbers during the past 2 years.

Reese Kaplan said...

His track record throughout the minors was that he was a slow adjuster to each new level of pitching. A strong second half would suggest that trend continued. A comparable or weaker second half might suggest he's hit the wall.

Anonymous said...

Very strong piece, thank you.

I believe that his numbers will get better -- how much, I don't know.

I also think he'd make a terrific super-sub, able to fill in at 3B, SS, and 2B. That is: an asset if used correctly.

James Preller

bob gregory said...

Just think though....
Even with all of these stats.

He has been the best choice on this team to hit 4th or 5th.

Mack Ade said...

Stephen -

It is very hard to dispute anything you write because of the depth of research you use in your posts.

Great job.

Adam Smith said...

I think he's looked a whole lot more comfortable and confident at the plate since he moved over to 2B. I'm expecting a big second half from Wilmer.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Sometimes comfort in the field can lead to relaxation and results at the plate. It did for Lucas Duda. I worry about his walk rate, though. He cannot be a low average hitter and not walk even if he does have power. That's the one aspect of his game that really concerns me. If he had a 10% walk rate I wouldn't have a care in the world with Flores as a 2B. Then again if that were the case, this article would not have been written.

Brian Joura said...

It’s been 108 PA since Flores’ last homer. Have pitchers figured out you don’t throw the ball low and inside to him? Can he deliver power in any other spot? It was one thing when his five game hot streaks would include three homers. It’s going to be hard to live on hot streaks comprising a couple of doubles followed up by three weeks of crappy play.

But at least the All-Star break comes at a good time for him.

Stephen Guilbert said...

A Joura sighting!

Flores is a polarizing player even in my own mind. On one hand I see hands, bat speed, at-times prodigious power and at least some clue how to play second base. On the other, I see a guy who is impatient, doesn't run well, will never be all that valuable a defender and a batter who kind of inexplicably has poor exit velocity numbers despite seemingly really good bat speed.

He's an enigma. Sometimes I think he'll go all Nelson Cruz or Carlos Gomez on us and become an elite player long after he's no longer with us but other times I think he's Jeff Francoeuring his way to replacement level play.

Mack's Mets © 2012