With the San Francisco Giants making a playoff push in the last full month of regular season baseball, it seems things have rather gone their way for them to inch up not only the Wild Card standings, but even the National League West standings.
While catching the Los Angeles Dodgers is arguably an impossible task given L.A.’s arsenal of pitching and hitting, the Giants did manage to leap frog the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks, who came out of the gates in the 2023 season surprising everyone with how well their young talent has performed.
With this in mind, it’s strange that the Giants have not had too many eyes on them. For better or for worse, it might come as an advantage for a team looking to lock their status as a playoff team for the second time in three years.
The pitching, led by ace Logan Webb and Alex Cobb and bullpen strengthened with the presence of the Rogers twins, has been great. The young call-ups, like Patrick Bailey, have helped lead the charge for the offense.
One could also argue Giants infielder Wilmer Flores has been the glue that keeps the offense together. Flores, now in his fourth year with San Francisco, has had an up-and-down offensive career with the Giants, with a bad 2022 (everyone on the Giants had a bad 2022 season).
His overall performance this season has not only made Flores the best Giants hitter, resulting in his best offensive season of his career, but one of the most underrated players in baseball right now.
The 32-year-old Flores not only has the best batting average on the Giants, but with an injury to Brandon Crawford, has seen more playing time around the infield.
Flores has seen time as the designated hitter when LaMonte Wade Jr. plays first, and switches off with Wade Jr. at times, too. He also moves around to third when J.D. Davis takes the day off or DH’s himself. Through his career, Flores has seen time in almost every infield position and has fully developed as the Giants go-to utility man.
How I see that, his dependability and his average show every night he comes to bat. To get a closer look into his hitting, look to his average over the past week. After a great series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Flores is batting .346 and clubbed two home runs in that span. Even better, his offensive month of August shows that he’s even better with a .349 average over the past 30 games.
It’s astonishing, too, that Flores is not a starter normally for the Giants. Yes, he has played in over 90 games this season, but for a guy who leads the team in home runs, you would think Flores would be a better designated hitter option than Joc Pederson.
This season, Flores is hitting .304/.365/.545, with a 145 wRC+. All of those marks represent a career-best for Flores. His wRC+ is the best on the Giants, as is his average, slugging percentage and his .910 OPS. In league where strikeouts are rampant, Flores only K’s 14.2% of the time.
Flores is also ranked third in RBI, behind Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis, and second in extra-base hits, behind Thairo Estrada. With that said, it seems more than worthy to have Flores in the lineup to some extent.
While the fielding might never be there for Flores, his ability to hit for a good average with enough pop has kept him in the game for a very long time.
For the down years, I have the firm belief that a coastal change, or a league change in some instances, can impact a player more than we give them credit for.
While one could say a Thairo Estrada is the most consistent bat in the Giants lineup right now, the most effective bat belongs to Wilmer Flores. A guy who grew in New York, but is blossoming in San Francisco.