Move over Shohei Ohtani. You’ve got competition for the title of ‘best player in the game.’
Step forward Giants fan-favourite Wilmer Flores.
Alright, let’s get serious; Flores isn’t in the same category as Ohtani, the once-in-a-lifetime force of nature every club will be chasing this offseason. However, Flores has quietly been one of the best hitters in the entire sport for well over a month now. The beloved Venezuelan has almost single-handedly carried San Francisco and their woeful offense through a challenging summer at Oracle Park.
Flores has routinely proven himself to be the shining light in Gabe Kapler’s lineup on a nightly basis. Over the past 30 days, Flores has recorded a 1.044 OPS, which ranks him eighth in the entire league at the time of writing, above renowned sluggers like Cody Bellinger, Kyle Tucker and Ronald Acuña Jr. That’s some impressive company to find yourself in.
According to Fangraphs, since 1 July Flores has pieced together an outrageous 180 wRC+, which also ranks him eighth in the majors.
This time Flores is above Ohtani. Let’s take a brief moment to enjoy that.
Since 16 July Flores’ .348/.398/.708 slashline (BA/OBP/SLG) and 1.106 OPS have been nothing short of prolific, with eight doubles and eight home runs thrown into the mix for good measure. Some of those homers have been real tape-measure blasts, gravity-defying bombs, including this pair he crushed in Cincinnati:
Now 32-years-old, Flores is aging gracefully and enjoying something of a career year. Which is remarkable, given the fact he’s the reigning Willie Mac Award winner. The prestigious Giants award is bestowed upon the San Francisco player who best exemplifies the leadership and spirit regularly displayed by the legendary Willie McCovey, and is a coveted clubhouse accolade each season. Flores was the overwhelming choice in 2022 after leading the team through many difficult days: his 19 home runs and 9.8% walk rate were both career-highs, and his overall value to the team was far higher than his 1.4 fWAR.
Now in his fourth year as a Giant, Flores is on pace to reach new heights, and currently holds a 140 wRC+ and an fWAR of 2.0. With almost six weeks of the season remaining, he sits on 16 home runs, just three shy of his career-high, with a great opportunity to hit the 20 mark for the first time.
Flores may not be the flashy free-agent superstar or a Platinum Glove defensive wizard, but he continues to be a highly effective player and indispensable to this team. Even when the lineup is scuffling, Giants fans have Flores. When they decide to trot out another opener on the mound, Giants fans still have Flores.
Like his Friends-inspired walk-up music suggests, Flores will be there for you.
Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on X (Twitter) @AshDay29
Photo credit for featured image by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.