As every baseball fan surely knows by now, Jose Reyes is back in Queens. The new (old) New York Met made his debut (redebut) on July 5, leading off and going 0-4 with a strikeout in a 5-2 loss to the Miami Marlins. The following day, Reyes lead off yet again, this time going 2-4 with two doubles in a 4-2 win over the Marlins. He manned third base and shortstop, respectively. Manager Terry Collins has said that he plans on having Reyes hit lead off often, which means his bat will somehow have to make his way into the lineup, which means someone has to sit for him. It is interesting timing, considering the Mets just outscored the Chicago Cubs 32-11 in an impressive four-game sweep.
One person who should not sit for Reyes is Wilmer Flores, despite Reyes training at third base in the Mets system before his promotion.
Wilmer Flores was undoubtedly bad the first few months of the season; he hit .107 with a 14 wRC+ in April, and hit .219 with a 58 wRC+ in May. However, in June (when he took over the third base job following David Wright’s injury) he went on a tear. He hit .289 with two home runs, 12 RBIs, and a 114 wRC+. He has continued his hot hitting into July, posting a .350 average, with two more home runs, five RBIs, and a 167 wRC+ through the first five games of the month.
The evidence shows that Flores’ bat has gotten better as he is given more regular playing time. In the first few months of the season, he was a super-utility player; he would move around the infield, playing the position of whatever infielder needed a rest. His offense was unimpressive in that role. Upon getting the chance to play at third every day, his offense became well above-average. Why would someone hitting so well in a regular role be benched, back to a role where he clearly struggled?
On top of that, the 2016 season is about to enter into the second half, where Flores is historically a better performer, hitting .248 with a 86 wRC+ in first halves of seasons, as opposed to a .259 average with a 92 wRC+ in second halves of seasons. It is not a herculean jump, but it sure is an improvement from the first half of the season to the second half.
Flores has been one of the hottest bats on the Mets over the past month. In fact, he had the seventh highest wRC+ amongst all Mets in the month of June; sixth if you take away the seven games Juan Lagares played in the month. He has done everything to deserve solid playing time, even though all signs point to Jose Reyes severely cutting into Flores’ time on the field.
Jose Reyes has also been wildly unimpressive in his short stint in the Mets minor league system before his call-up. In two games in Low-A ball for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Reyes went 0-5. In nine games with Double-A Binghamton, he went 6-29.
Jose Reyes is going to play; there is no doubt about it. However, his spot should not be guaranteed. Wilmer Flores has been great for the past month now, and he deserves the chance to keep his starting spot at the hot corner.