Is veteran bat the new SF Giants X Factor following injuries?

St. Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

There is a reason why SF Giants veteran bat Wilmer Flores is so popular. He is a leader in the clubhouse and is so reliable in the field. Does the focus now shift to him given the injuries to J.D. Davis and Mitch Haniger?

Is veteran bat the new SF Giants X Factor following injuries?

The Giants confirmed that Haniger suffered a fractured forearm in Tuesday's 11-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. He is expected to undergo surgery on Thursday and a recovery timeline will be determined after that.

On the other hand, the Giants might have avoided a disaster with Davis. The third baseman rolled his ankle in the same game as the Haniger injury, but his injury has been labeled as a Grade 1 strain, meaning that he should be able to return in relatively short order. San Francisco has not placed Davis injured list yet, so they are holding out hope that he can return this weekend.

If he does land on the injured list, the attention will shift to Flores. Haniger, Flores, and Davis all hit from the right side and all three are relatively platoon-proof. They are typically in the lineup regardless of who is pitching.

Haniger has struggled to the tune of a .653 OPS in 160 plate appearances in 2023, but he has a track record of success, including a 39-homer season just two years ago. Davis has been one of the more consistent bats in the lineup with an .845 OPS in 245 plate appearances. This type of production is difficult to replace, but Flores is capable of doing so.

The right-handed bat has seen his role diminish a bit in 2023 due to Davis' strong campaign and the arrival of Casey Schmitt. Plus, Thairo Estrada and LaMonte Wade Jr. have been some of the better players in baseball at their respective positions.

Flores has experience at first base, second base, and third base. However, there just has not been enough playing time at those positions for Flores this season. That could change in a big way. The Giants will need another righty bat in the lineup whether it be at first base, DH, or another position. This is where Flores comes into play.

Despite a slightly reduced role, the 11-year veteran remains a steady contributor, slashing .255/.315/.436 (104 OPS+) with six home runs, 20 RBI, and 18 runs in 165 plate appearances this year. He is one year removed in setting a career-high in home runs with 19 and has registered .756 OPS since joining the Giants prior to the 2020 season. Plus, he has an .802 OPS against left-handed pitching and a .722 OPS against right-handed pitching in his career, so he has done well to avoid extreme platoon splits.

He may not be able to replicate Haniger or Davis' production, but he can do a really nice job at ensuring that the drop-off is not too steep. One way or the other, it feels like Flores' role will change in an important way following the injuries.