Some guys I just root a bit harder for than others. 23-year-old Wilmer Flores of Valencia is one of them.
All winter the Mets tried to find another shortstop, thinking Wilmer wasn’t up to the task, especially on defense. As the season began, they luke-warmly handed him the job, and his lack of confidence showed–for a while he led the league in errors by a shortstop.
But one thing the Mets always liked about Wilmer, and which shone through in 2014, is his hitting ability, and it’s starting to show this season too. On Monday, Wilmer belted a three-run homer to win the series opener against the Phillies, and last night he plated the tying run in the eighth, and the winning run in the bottom of the tenth, in a back-and-forth Mets divisional victory. The winning single came off countryman Elvis Araújo, who himself replaced caraqueño Jeanmar Gómez in a game chock-full of Venezuelans, including Freddy Galvis, Odubel Herrera, and César Hernández for the visitors.
Galvis–who leads all MLB shortstops with a .311 average– tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth, but the Mets’ own campocorto criollo struck back in a nice seven-pitch at-bat, driving a sac fly to even things up in the bottom of the frame.
Wilmer now leads his team and MLB shortstops with seven home runs, and has a .252 average over 41 games as the injury-riddled Mets continue to vie for the NL East lead. Wilmer’s teammates continue to praise his professionalism, and four others have passed him in the dubious errors-by-shorstop derby.
To paraphrase another adopted New Yorker: all we are saying, is give Flores a chance.