Aug 5, 2020

Wilmer Flores: Mets All Time Leader In Walk Off RBIs (2013-2018)

Wilmer Alejandro Flores was born on August 6th 1991 in Valencia, Venezuela. The six foot three,  right hand hitting infielder was signed by the New York Mets on his 16th birthday, while still in high school in 2007.

Flores debuted with the A Ball Kingsport Mets in 2008. He moved on to play eight games with Brooklyn Cyclones that year as well as with the Savannah Sand Gnats. While in the Appalachian League he was one of the toughest hitters to strike out & ranked the circuit's #2 prospect. 

In 2009 he led all short stops in fielding & started at second base in the Futures Game.

Flores played the next three seasons with the A ball St. Lucie Mets, hitting .300 in 2010. He began 2012 in St. Lucie & was moved up to the AA Binghamton Mets, where he hit .311 in 66 games. 
In 2013 he was one of the Mets top prospects & started out the year at AAA Las Vegas. There he had a fine season hitting .321 with 15 HRs 36 doubles & 86 RBIs.

MLB Mets Career: On his 22nd birthday he was brought up to the Mets big league squad debuting on August 6th. The next day he was the hitting star in Matt Harvey's four hit shut out of the Colrado Rockies at Citi Field. Flores had two hits including a bases loaded, base clearing double in the 8th inning.

Flores drove in runs in the next five games as well with another three RBI day on August 10th in a 4-1 Mets win. The next day he hit his first career HR, it came in Arizona in a 9-5 win over the D-backs.

Flores hot start tailed off as he finished up the year batting .211 with one HR, 5 doubles & 13 RBIs

Flores began 2014 with the Mets, going 0-4 in the second game of the year. He was sent back to AAA Las Vegas, returning on May 9th. He hit safely in five of his first six games, getting named the club's main short stop by manager Terry Collins, in place of a struggling Ruben Tejada.

On June 2nd, Flores had his biggest day at the plate in the big leagues, in an 11-2 Mets win at Philadelphia. Tejada began it with a two run double in the 6th inning & finished it up with a grand slam HR off Phillipe Aumont in the 9th inning.

He didn't hit much the rest of the month & lost the starting short stop role. He was batting .225 on June 25th when he was sent back down to AAA Las Vegas. 

There he hit real well, hitting in 22 consecutive games keeping his AAA average at .323 on the seasons. He was called back up to the big league club on July 24th & got a hit in his return.

On August 2nd he drove in two runs in the Mets 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. On September 16th he had one of his biggest days, collecting three hits with two HRs & six RBIs in a 9-1 Mets win over the Marlins at Citi Field. For 2014 he batted .251 with 6 HRs 13 doubles & 29 RBIs.

In the 2015 off season, there was a lot of talk for the Mets to get a short stop. Many names & rumors were thrown around bit no deals were made. Manager Terry Collins announced Flores was to be the teams short stop even though he was not familiar with the position. He handled it well, dismissing the negative press against him & the rumors of trades.

2015 NL Pennant Season: Although he struggled on the field, making 10 error in 69 games at short, he started off the season hitting well. In mid April he hit three HRs over a six game span. On April 16th, his three run HR helped the Mets to a 7-5 win over the Miami Marlins. Two days later his two run blast helped the team in a 5-4 victory. On April 22nd, his two run HR helped beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 also at Citi.

In mid May he had a similar stretch, On May 16th he hit a grand slam HR while batting in the 8th position being the first player to do that in an NL Park. Pitcher Jacob deGrom batted 8th & had three hits.

On May 25th his 6th inning HR off the Phillies Elvis DeFratus breaking a 3-3 tie in what turned out to be the game winner. The next night he tied up a game with a sac fly & then hit a game winning walk off single to win it. Although his average never went higher than the .250s he had ten HRs by mid June. But from there he would not hit another through the end of July.

The Best Trade Never Made: On July 29th, In a snowballing social media frenzy, it was reported that the Mets had traded Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Zack Wheeler in exchange for former Met Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers. When Flores came to bat the fans gave him a standing ovation & began shouting to him that he had been traded.

When he took the field in the top of the inning, the young Flores began to shed tears in a very emotional scene. It was a strange sad emotional scene for the young man who had been in the Mets organization since he was 16 years old.

Then later in the 9th inning, Manager Terry Collins was seen talking to Flores in the dugout as he removed him from the game.

Mets Captain David Wright, Veteran Michael Cuddyer & Flores' friend Ruben Tejada followed Wilmer into the run way to support him & calm him down. After the game Manager Terry Collins was upset in his press conference, saying he knew nothing about a deal being made. He said all he knew was he had a game to play & a game to try to win. 

After the game, GM Sandy Alderson also reported that no deal was going to happen. It was a bizarre night at Citi Field for sure as the Mets lost 7-3 to the San Diego Padres. The deal did not go through, as the Mets siad they were concerned about Gomez' medical report, most importantly a former hip injury.

The aftermath surrounding the incident was incredible. The media were all over the Mets organization for the debacle & the Mets fans took Flores side, as did all of America. He soon became Citi field's sweetheart.

New Yorkers began to sympathize with Flores, and in this sensitive world we live in, the statement was it's ok to let your emotions out at work, on the field & publicly. It also showed how much Flores wanted to be a part of the Mets & what's happening with this team. The fans fell in love with him & he was to be a Mets cult hero forever.

After a devastating loss the next day, blowing a 7-1 lead in two rain delays the second place Mets hosted the first place Washington Nats.

Walk Off Hero: On July 31st, the large Citi Field crowd gave Flores a standing ovation when he made a 1st inning play & when he came to bat for the first time.

Flores responded by driving in the Mets first run of the night & then hit an incredible exciting walk off HR in the bottom of the 12th inning. It was his first career walk off & Flores was the hero of the night. In the words of Mets manager "you can't write that"!

As August started all the Mets licked in gear & hit like a machine. Flores hit doubles in three straight games during the Mets seven game win streak. In mid August he drove in runs in five straight games, as the Mets won seven of eight on a very successful road trip through Baltimore, Colorado & Philadelphia. Flores collected 13 hits with ten RBIs in that stretch.

On August 24th, as Mets Captain David Wright made a triumphant return after being down with injury since April. 

That night the Mets clobbered the Phillies in Philadelphia 16-7, Flores had another huge night. He collected three hits with two HRs & a season high five runs driven in. In the 4th inning he blasted a two run HR then a three run shot in the 5th inning.

In early September Flores hit HRs in back to back games in Miami but cooled off for the rest of the regular season. He completed the season batting .263 with 16 HRs 22 doubles 59 RBIs 55 runs scored & a .295 on base % in 137 games. Flores would play 103 games at short stop & 37 games at second base.

Post Season-
2015 NLDS: Flores made his first appearance in Game #2 of the NLDS against the Los Angles Dodgers, after Ruben Tejada was taking out of the game after getting slid into by Chase Utley. Flores would be the Mets short stop the rest of the way.In one at bat he went  0-1.

In Game #3 at Citi Field, Flores had two hits & scored two runs in the Mets 13-7 victory. He would get just one hit in six at bats in the next two games with one walk.

2015 NLCS: In the Mets NLCS sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Flores collected four hits, two of them coming in the fourth & final game. He did not score any runs but did draw one walk.

2015 World Series: In the World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals, he had his troubles as did many other Mets players. Flores went 1-17 with a walk. Overall in the post season he batted just .195.

Trivia: Flores appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show with David Wright, Matt Harvey & Jacob deGrom when the Mets won the NL pennant.

After the Pennant: During the off season, the Mets acquired Neil Walker to play second base & Asdrubal Cabrera to play short stop. Ruben Tejada was gone so Flores looked to be everyone's back up including an aging, hurting David Wright at third base.

But Flores struggled, missing a lot of action due to injury in May & not getting over the .200 batting mark until June. He did not get his first HR until the last day of April & didn't hit another until mid June.

On June 15th Flores had his best day of the season until that point, collecting two hits including a two run HR his second of the year. 

He drove in four runs in the Mets much needed 11-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. By this time Flores was seeing more time at third base as David Wright underwent neck surgery, that would change with the arrival of Jose Reyes back in New York.

On July 3rd Flores had an epic day, collecting six hits, tying a Mets record set by Edgardo Alfonzo in 1999, where he also hit two HRs helping the Mets sweep a series with the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. 

In that game he raised his average 31 points as well. He was on a tear as three games later he hit two more HRs, this time against the Miami Marlins in a 4-2 win at Citi Field. He came back the next day with another HR & three RBIs in a 9-7 win over the rival Nats. In mid July he hot HRs again in back to back games.

On August 13th he hit an infield grounder that scored the games winning run against the San Diego Padres. In late August he drove in runs in four straight games, helping the Mets in a win streak of nine of eleven games.

He hit a HR in St. Louis on August 23rd, driving in three in a 7-4 Mets win.  His big blow cane on August 24th, when he hit a grand slam HR against Adam Morgan & the Phillies in the 5th inning at a Mets Citi Field win. In August he hit four HRs with 19 RBIs helping the Mets take over the wild card lead in the NL.

On September 10th he was involved in a collision at home plate with Atlanta Braves catcher; A.J. Pierzynski. Flores needed surgery & went down for the rest of the season.
He ended 2016 with 16 HRs 14 doubles 49 RBIs & batting .267 with a .319 on base %, playing in 103 games. The Mets used him at all infield positions during the year.
In 2017 Flores was once again in a back up role, starting out on Opening Day, coming into the game in the 7th inning & scoring a run. On April 21st, he required hospitalization due to an infection in his knee, putting him on the DL. 

He struggled at the plate not getting above .200 until early May. He hit just one HR in May & did have a three RBI game but the Mets took a loss that night to San Diego. He opened up June with HRs in two of three games, collecting four in the month with ten RBIs.
On July 20th his 8th inning HR against the St. Louis Cardinals at a matinee at Citi Field tied the game, the Mets went on to win in the 9th inning. Two days later he hit a walk off HR against the Oakland Athletics in an exciting 6-5 Mets win at Citi Field.

By the end of July he was batting .284 with 9 HRs & 28 RBIs, the Mets were five games under .500 & 

Flores name was coming up in Trade talks with the Boston Red Sox. This time around, two years after the tears, Flores was not getting caught up in the rumors. 

In his first seven games of August he hit three HRs & had six HRs in the month. With the power came a drop in batting average, he was injured for most of the final month of the season & Flores would finish with a .271 average, third best on a bad hitting club. He hit 18 HRs with 52 RBIs 17 doubles & a .307 on base %.

King of the Walk Offs: Flores earned the reputation as a Mets clutch walk off hitter. 

In 2018 he enjoyed walk off HRs on April 15th against the Milwaukee Brewers & one on July 9th against the Philadelphia Phillies. 

His four career walk off HRs, tied him with Mike Piazza, Cleon Jones, Kevin McReynolds & Chris Jones for most in Mets history. Flores is the Mets all time leader in walk off RBIs (10) passing David Wright. They are the most walk off RBIs of any player in the majors, in the period of 2014 - 2018. 

Quotes- Wilmer Flores: “It never gets old, It’s amazing when we all celebrate.”

On June 26th, Mr. Flores won another game for the Mets, this one with a base hit to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the bottom of the 10th inning. It was his 9th walk off game winning RBI in his career.

On July 23rd. Flores hit his 9th HR of the year, a two run shot as he drove in three runs in the Mets 12-5 win over the Pirates. 

On August 15th he had another three RBI day in another Mets blow out. He hit his 11th HR in the Mets 16-5 win over the Orioles in Camden Yards. He collected three more hits & two more RBIs the next day as the Mets beat the Phillies 24-4 in Philly. He closed out the month of August with 10 RBIs in the last two weeks of the month.

His season ended early in September struggling through another injury. 

In his last season as a Met he hit .267 with 103 hits 11 HRs 25 doubles (third most on the team) 51 RBIs & a .319 on base %.

In November of 2018 he was granted free agency, as one of the few Mets to produce that season, as well as in his tenure as a Met, he was let go. The popular player thanked the fans & eventually signed on with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Post Mets Career: In Arizona, he missed two months of action from May 19th to July 19th due to injuries. Overall in 89 games he batted .316 with 9 HRs 18 doubles 37 RBIs & a .361 on base %. In the winter of 2020 he signed on with the San Francisco Giants.

Mets Career: In his six year Mets career he had played in 581 games (40th most in Met history) with 524 hits, batting .262 with 68 HRs 96 doubles 253 RBIs (37th in Met history) & a .303 on base %. 

All around infielder: In his career, Flores has played 165 games at second base 162 games at short, 166 games at first base, 143 games at third & three games as a DH.

No comments: