Wilmer Flores has grown through the trials and expected doom of his experiment
Tom Hanks once said in a feature movie, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Maybe there should be, because Wilmer Flores has flourished since the day he was nearly traded for Carlos Gomez on July 29, and cried his eyes out in front of the Citi Field faithful.
He’s emerged as a cult hero of sorts among Mets fans, receiving an ovation every time he takes the field and comes to bat.
He’s notched two game winning RBI since nearly being traded – once against the Nationals and the other against the Rays. Since that date, Flores is hitting .304/.339/.500 with five doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in a span of 17 games.
In fairness, his successful stretch spans further back than July 31. He’s hitting .306/.336/.418 with 11 extra-base hits and 14 RBI in 140 plate appearances over his last 37 games.
What’s more impressive, Flores has run an errorless streak to 62 games, dating back to May 30 against the Marlins. He also has not made an error in 30 games at second base this season, emerging as a capable infielder despite his limited range.
Considering everything he has gone through as a pawn for the team at shortstop and what seemed as inevitable failure at the position, he was able to brush off all of the whispers, all the negativity and all of the doubt of his skill set, embrace the challenge and improve through it.
And Flores has become quite the timely hitter over the course of the year with his eight game-winning RBI in the process. He nearly had another game-winning RBI with his go-ahead home run just three days ago in the seventh inning against the Orioles.
Flores has truly become the reliable player the Mets needed him to be entering the season. He’s not graceful at times, he swings at a lot of pitches and often times beats himself in his plate appearances. But he has a knack for the big hit and seems to have developed a fearless mentality.
He’s become smoother and more confident as an infielder as well, perhaps playing even better than they expected he would during this long stretch of games.
It’s hard enough to survive the mental trials of his journey this season, let alone find ways to get better. It seems to have helped him grow and mature as a player, because he is a better player today than he was even a month ago.
Perhaps Flores is a true pioneer, and there should be crying in baseball.