If on Opening Day, you told me that Wilmer Flores would be starting at shortstop for the Mets in the 2015 World Series and that he would actually look quite good in doing so, I probably would've told you to quit drinking. If you had told me the same thing on July 29, I might have died laughing. As we all know, a strange and winding confluence of events led to this situation actually playing out in real life. Despite unremarkable overall numbers, Flores' season is one that should go down in Mets lore as a catalyst to the 2015 squad's run to the World Series and it all started because of the entire spectrum of emotions he displayed on one July evening.
If you're describing Wilmer Flores, the first thing you're going to discuss is his defense and it was certainly a bit of a hot button issue heading into the season. The Mets gave Flores the majority of the starts at shortstop in April, May, and June to open the year and his defense would probably grade out as "shaky", at best. Though the metrics saw little issue with his performance in the field, Flores had issues throwing to first base immediately and even made 10 errors the first two months of the year, an alarming rate for a defender with range issues.
With the experiment looking like a failure, Flores went from June 27 to July 29 without starting a game at shortstop. That night, Flores received what could've been his final start in a Mets uniform. Of course, the story is nearly legendary now: the trade that was agreed to that would've brought Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Flores and Zack Wheeler. Flores on the field and in the dugout crying. Sandy Alderson saying that the deal "has not and will not transpire". And then, the game just two days later when Flores played hero with a walk-off home run against the Nationals.
From that point on, the Wilmer Flores experience completely turned on a dime. It was like a light turned on: after hitting .251/.283/.387 through the final night of July, Flores hit to a .292/.326/.460 line over the final two months. Terry Collins began to work him back in at shortstop in tandem with Ruben Tejada and Wilmer's defense, though sometimes not beautiful to the eye, was certainly workable and even surprisingly good at times. Overall, he finished the season with a .263/.295/.408 line, hit 16 home runs, and was worth 1.9 WAR according to Fangraphs, which ranked 8th best among qualified shortstops.
The growth and development was clear and for a 24-year old with a shot at playing shortstop, it's a pretty promising development going forward. Most importantly, however, is the bond that Flores developed with Mets fans on that July night. As somebody who was pretty vocally opposed to his presence at shortstop, I'm happy to personally say that I was wrong and I've come to really appreciate Wilmer, aided by what happened that evening on the field as he wiped tears from his eyes.
He's not a perfect baseball player in the least but that's okay. The emotion he showed on the field that night really was endearing in a way we don't see very often in the game and I hope both Mets lore and the fanbase will never forget that. I know I won't. The improvements are just icing on the cake.