Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez until Spring Training. Enjoy.
Nicknamed “The Human Bruise” by MASN commentator F.P. Santangelo, Jesus Flores was probably the Washington Nationals’ most reliable catcher during the 2012 season. Although he landed on the disabled list a few times himself, he stayed mostly healthy throughout a season when Nationals catchers were spending more time on the DL than on the field, and he took being pelted by pitches and foul balls from the hard-throwing pitching staff without much evident complaint.
The Nationals leaned heavily on Flores, especially through the heart of the season, and the 28-year-old put in a career-high 687.2 innings behind the plate, spending the most time there of any single Nats catcher last season.
The number of innings of work he put in alone was enough to qualify his season as a positive for the Nationals during a time when they desperately needed him. However, his brightest-shining moments were often overshadowed, and they were paired with playing time struggles.
For example, overall his offensive production was not very good – he finished the season with a slash line of .213/.248/.329 – but the celebration of his first home run of the season was quickly cut short by the even bigger celebration of the first home run of Stephen Strasburg’s career.
Flores hit a total of six home runs and 26 RBI for the season, but he struck out 59 times in 277 at-bats, tied with Rick Ankiel for seventh-most on the team. As mentioned in The Nats Blog’s review of Ankiel, all six other players with more strikeouts had between 400 and 600 at-bats.
Possibly Flores’s biggest downside though was the 51 runners he allowed to steal a base, compared to the nine he threw out (that’s just 15 percent). This number wasn’t helped much by Nationals pitchers who struggled with holding runners, but as the season went on the trend continued. Coupled with his poor offense, this is probably ultimately why he lost his starting role to Kurt Suzuki toward the end of the season and into the postseason.
Next Year: After being non-tendered by the Nationals in November, Flores signed a minor-league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Jan. 16, which included an invitation to Spring Training and ended his five-year career with the Nationals. There is room on the Dodgers’ roster for Flores, even if only as a backup, because they currently have only two catchers on their 40-man roster. So, the possibility of Flores securing a major-league roster spot is high, and in 2012 he certainly showed that he is a reliable player.
Up Next: #27 Jordan Zimmermann