It seems Wilmer Flores plays well when he has a sense of urgency.
When the Mets almost traded him to the Brewers last year, he responded by having a torrid August by hitting .306 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. He also had an on-base percentage of .337 along with .506 slugging percentage and .843 OPS.
Here it is again. Flores is playing with a sense of urgency with Jose Reyes taking up most of his playing time at third base since the Mets signed him to a minor-league deal.
Flores played Game 2 of the doubleheader last night, and he had three hits in the Mets’ 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.
With Reyes out for a couple of days after straining his left intercostal, the fan favorite will likely be playing at third.
There has to be a sense of urgency for him to develop into a reliable player now. He can only get so many chances to play in the majors. This may be his last chance to show what he can do. Sooner or later, the Mets are going to give up on him.
It’s up to Flores to make it harder for them to give up on him. He knows this as much as anyone. If not for Zack Wheeler’s failed physical, he would not be a Met last year. He may not be a Met next year if he does not have another strong finish.
This month is his best stretch of the season. He has hit seven home runs and drove in 13 runs. He has hit .340 with .382 on-base percentage, .800 slugging percentage and 1.182 OPS. This should be enough for him to earn playing time.
Mets manager Terry Collins has been hesitant to give Flores more playing time. For one thing, he feels if he plays him everyday, his weakness would get exposed. Second of all, he wants him to earn his place in the lineup.
Collins can talk about Reyes needing to get playing time at third base all he wants, but if he truly believed in Flores, he would play him in place of Asdrubal Cabrera or Neil Walker. It’s not like those two have played well to deserve more playing time.
It’s up to Flores to convince his manager to play him every day, and he can do that by continuing to play well.
Flores needs to approach each game as if this is his last. He sure is playing like one right now.
He is not a 19-year-old prospect anymore. He is 24. This is where he has to be coming into his own.
He has made strides as a player, but he hasn’t been an impact player to the Mets’ liking. He has gone through a funk offensively during the course of the season. He has been consistent of being inconsistent just like the rest of his teammates not named Yoenis Cespedes.
Flores has hit .263 with 10 HRs and 27 RBIs this season, and he has struck out 31 times. The Mets were hoping for more out of him. Put it this way. If Flores had 22 HRs and 50 RBIs, there would be no need for Reyes.
It just could be Flores is a serviceable role player. That means playing three days a week. This is where he shines the most. He would be like what Nick Punto used to be as a Major League player.
There has to be a reason Collins does not want to play him everyday. He knows what he sees out of his utility player.
That’s on Flores to change that perception. He has to keep hitting and driving in runs. He has to be on base often. He can’t be striking out like he has frequently this year.
If he does well in the next two games, it will be hard to take him out of the lineup. He probably is the 2nd best offensive player on the team. That’s more of an indictment how bad Travis d’Arnaud, Curtis Granderson, Cabrera and Walker have been this season so far.
Fans love Flores because he is a gritty player. He works hard at what he does. He became a feel-good story last year from him crying when he was about to be traded to him going on a great stretch the final two months of the season. He can do no wrong in their minds.
That’s great and all, but Flores strives to be a star on the Mets.
He can only do that by hitting when he is called to play.
Either he steps up in being consistently good or he can maximize his potential somewhere else.