Breakouts come in many forms in fantasy baseball. In cases like Aaron Judge this season, it’s hard to miss. However, in the crosstown shadows, a Met not named Michael Conforto should be on the radar for those in 12-team or deeper leagues due to his recent production. With David Wright sidelined and Jose Reyes not being productive, a door opened for Wilmer Flores to play almost regularly for New York.
He’s well known to daily fantasy sports players because Flores rakes versus left-handed pitchers, but this year he’s playing against right-handed pitching, as well, and doing quite well of late. There are sexier players to delve into like the aforementioned Judge, but at a time when injuries seem to besiege all rosters, a look at Flores could prove beneficial for those in need of a fantasy fill-in or an upgrade. Here’s five things to consider when evaluating Flores going forward.
1. Roster flexibility
As alluded to, Flores will not be sexy. However, for those in leagues with transactions limits, Flores becomes more alluring due to his multiple positional eligibility. In formats which require 20-games played minimums, Flores may be deployed at first base, third base, and corner infield. Moving to leagues which only need 10-games at a position, he adds second base and middle infield to the mix. Any player that can be used as fantasy “spackle” in a season with the volume of injuries this year has provided makes total sense to provide roster flexibility. It’s a very underrated fantasy asset.
2. Hitting vs. southpaws
One can look at Flores’ splits from this season and note he’s hitting .412 against left-handed pitching with two home runs and four RBI in only 34 at-bats. Since the start of 2016, Flores ranks tied for 10th in the majors with 13 home runs against southpaws. If going back further, he’s ranked first in slugging percentage (.654) against left-handed pitching since 2015 when measuring players with at least 225 plate appearances. When Flores faces a lefty, he should be in the lineup.
3. Increased playing time equals more value
Within all the vernacular of buy low or sell high that accompany fantasy sports, finding a player who may be peaking along with a clear path to more playing time means he’s someone to target. Flores will not turn 26 until August this season, and despite his past usage as a left-handed pitching specialist, the Mets need him to play more and produce.
They’ve been stubborn, and you can just read the frustration of any Mets fan in regards to how Conforto is treated. But Flores appeared in only 10 games in April with an increase to 23 in May. He rewarded the Mets with a .379 average in May, which will be addressed further below. As of June 12th, he’s appeared in 10 games in June, as well, so playing time should no longer be an issue holding Flores back.
4. Flores hit well in May and against right-handed pitchers
It’s been established Flores can hit left-handed pitching. Due to need, the Mets finally turned him loose against right-handed pitchers. Over his last 72 at-bats against righties, he’s recorded 28 hits (.389 average) with six doubles, a triple, three home runs and 12 RBI. Seems pretty good, right?
If using 60 plate appearances as the minimum for May, Flores would rank third in average trailing a pair of Astros (Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez) for the month. Flores finished May slashing .379/.406/.500 with an impressive .906 on-base plus slugging percentage and 147 weighted runs created plus. He’s carried it over to June with a 1.066 OPS, 173 wRC+, and a spike in his isolated power to .297 due to two home runs to start the month.
5. Could Flores be putting all the pieces together?
[the_ad id=”384″]Delving into his batted ball data, there’s no discernible differences in regards to contact, swinging strike rates, or pull percentage when looking at Flores. He’s benefiting from an inflated BABIP right now fueling his spike in average, but he’s also in unfamiliar territory in regards to playing time and in his matchups. Flores gains in regards to hard contact are notable, which have increased by 8.5 percent this season.
So, Flores’ is making harder contact, with more playing time, against pitchers of both handedness and prior to turning 26. While the BABIP and batting average could regress, the power seems to be on the rise. Added to his multiple positional eligibility, Flores seems like a player to kick the tires on. There’s more tantalizing prospects on the way, but with Cesar Hernandez being the latest second baseman to land on the disabled list, why not take Wilmer Flores for a test drive?
Since May 1, Flores has a .379 batting average (39-for-103), leading all players with at least 80 plate appearances. It’s time to find out what he’s capable of.