Most of the attention this week has gone to two of the California teams to the south of San Francisco. However, the Giants have been busy as well, and they continue to add to their team by picking up infielder Wilmer Flores.
Flores to San Francisco
Wilmer Flores goes to the Giants after agreeing to a two-year deal with the team, and the Giants have a club option for a third season. The 28-year old will stay in the NL West in 2020, as he moves from Arizona, where he spent last season, to the San Francisco Giants.
Last season was a nice one for Flores, despite the fact that he spent almost two full months on the IL. Across 89 games, Flores recorded a .317/.361/.487 slash line in 2019. The 28-year old hit nine home runs and 27 extra base hits. and drove in 37 runs over 265 at-bats. Flores’ batting average and on-base percentage figures were career highs, and he was quite good when it came to making contact last season and avoiding the strikeout. Among all hitters who had 250 or more plate appearances* last season, Flores was the tenth-best in K% (10.9%), and fifth-best in Whiff% (10.8%). Considering those numbers, it makes a lot of sense as to why the Giants, who are becoming more of an analytically-friendly franchise, would take a chance on Flores.
Another interesting note regarding Flores’ 2019 was how well he hit against fastballs. With the Mets in 2018, Flores’ numbers against fastballs were a bit pedestrian, as he hit .258 and slugged .424 (Flores saw fastballs 59.7% of the time). Last season with the Diamondbacks, Flores’ average against fastballs rose to .358, and he only had a Whiff% rate of 4.8% (Flores saw fastballs 60.7% in 2019). To add to those numbers, six of Flores’ nine home runs were off fastballs last season.
Now there are reasons to be cautious when it comes to expectations regarding Flores. The 28-year old does get under on balls quite a bit, and his career walks have always been below average. However, Flores can do damage at times, and he could thrive in the right situation. So, what could you expect from Flores in 2020?
What to Expect from Flores in 2020
It’s hard to produce a clear projection for what Flores will do in 2020. The 28-year old has never always had the luxury of having regular playing time, and he has landed on the DL/IL in each of the last four seasons. Flores, though, could receive regular playing time with the Giants this season, as San Francisco is currently going through a rebuild and were in need of an infielder. However, the 28-year old may need to beat out Mauricio Dubon in Spring Training in order to secure the starting second base position.
As for what Giant and baseball fans should expect from him, there’s a very good chance that he could hit 20 home runs in 2020 provided he stays healthy. Flores hit 18 home runs (career high) in 2017 over 110 games (336 AB), so playing a full season could allow him to hit the 20 home run plateau for the first time. However, don’t expect the infielder to be a stolen base threat, nor walk very much. And regarding Flores’ fielding ability, the 28-year old has experience playing first, second and third, giving the Giants some options in regards to how they want to deploy him int the field. However, Flores has never been a strong defender throughout his MLB career. He did, however, have an OAA of +2 last season with the Diamondbacks (via Baseball Savant).
2020 will be a challenging season for the Giants, as San Francisco continues to rebuild. The pickup of Wilmer Flores helps the Giants, but it doesn’t change their rebuilding mindset by any means. Still, he can be a useful player for San Francisco, both in the present and in the future.
*-320 players qualified (via Baseball Savant)
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