Today in Baseball: Is Wilmer “The Future”?

wilmerflores

I remember on June 10th, 2003, when some guy named José Reyes played his first game in a Mets uniform. Entering the game, he was ranked the #3 prospect in the MLB by “Baseball America.” The 20-year-old Dominican shortstop was so highly touted that, on his debut, the Mets gave out mini-bats with Reyes’ picture and “the future” plastered all over them.

So yeah, he was pretty good.

He ended up playing nine seasons with the Mets. In those nine seasons, he totaled 370 stolen bases, a .292 average, 99 triples, 81 home runs, and 423 RBIs.

Here’s a clip just to remind you how electric Jose was…

…how fast he was…

…and how much the fans loved him.

And then, after a phenomenal 2011 season in Flushing, he was gone.

On December 7th, 2011, Reyes inked a deal with the Miami Marlins.

Reyes has expressed that he wanted to stay in Flushing. As the story goes, the only reason he bolted is that Sandy Alderson didn’t even schedule a meeting with him.

But, regardless of the reasoning behind it, Reyes is gone, as he has been for the last four years. And ever since he left, the Mets shortstop position has been constantly in flux.

Since Reyes has been gone, we’ve seen 276 games of Ruben Tejada, 126 games of Omar Quintanilla, 51 games of Wilmer Flores, 28 games of Justin Turner, 27 games of Ronny Cedeño, 8 games of Wilfredo Tovar, 5 games of Jordany Valdespin, a game of Eric Campbell, and even a single game of David Wright at shortstop!

Wilmer Flores, the third man on that illustrious list, is slotted as the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop.

It’s becoming increasingly evident with each passing day that Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have a lot of faith in Flores. They’ve passed on Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Desmond, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jung-Ho Kang, Jed Lowrie, Hanley Ramirez, and more, in favor of sticking with Wilmer.

This aforementioned faith in Flores isn’t unwarranted…

The 23-year-old is taller than the average shortstop, standing at 6’3″. He possesses nice power and has the potential to become a very good hitter.

While he often looks like a subpar and sloppy defensive shortstop, the numbers say otherwise… In 51 games at shortstop this past season, he had a .979 fielding percentage, which would put him tied with Adeiny Hechavarria for 7th amongst all shortstops last season (albeit small sample size). Wilmer had just four errors in 51 games, or .078 per game- during his Mets tenure, Jose Reyes, largely looked at as a nice fielder, averaged .1 error per game. While Flores is far from a defensive wiz, he’s an acceptable defensive shortstop. His lack of fancy plays, among other factors, unfairly gives him this reputation as a defensive liability.

Do I want the Mets to acquire a better, more proven shortstop? Yes, of course.

However, I don’t think that they will do that until AT LEAST the end of next season.

Flores certainly isn’t Reyes… He certainly isn’t “the future.”

But one thing is for sure- Flores has a whole lot of potential. The question is- can he make good on it?

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