There was a point in the 2014 season where Tyler Flowers not only found comfort at the plate he produced.
Flowers said Friday he routinely has experienced a similar position of ease at the plate this season but he hasn’t had the same results. While Flowers has reduced his strikeout rate by six percent this season, his overall performance has dropped. Through 300 plate appearances, Flowers is hitting .219/.268/.341 with eight homers and 32 RBIs.
“I felt like I’ve had a number of weeks where I’ve felt like (good),” Flowers said. “Results, I haven’t had that. It’s been kind of tough to get some consistent success and some breaks, some balls dropping in, anything like that. It seems like they’re extremely hard to come by most of this season.”
While on the West Coast last week, Flowers even went as far as to say he was slumping and in need of a break when he had two balls called for strikes in a critical bases-loaded at bat that resulted in a strikeout.
It was at this time last season that Flowers was thriving at the plate. From July 9 through the end of the year, Flowers carried a .273/.326/.533 slash line with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 178 plate appearances. Flowers said he started to feel good and produce toward the end of the first half this season but he hasn’t been as consistent, which has been a point of frustration.
“I said it to (Todd Steverson) yesterday, ‘It’s kind of frustrating putting in all this work for my whole life, you just can’t get over that hump to be consistent — at least consistently successful,’” Flowers said. “But I think that’s kind of the challenge of sports is like you still have to wake up with that motivation and competitiveness and keep working hard even though you went 0-for-3 last night with three good at-bats, to still come in here and feel like you need to work and want to work and that’s kind of the challenge of the game.”
The White Sox are likely to head into this offseason open to the idea of finding a long-term catcher if one is available. But that’s the rub — they aren’t the only team in search of a catcher. At least half of all major league teams (and more like 20) would prefer to improve their catching situation if they could do so at a reasonable cost. So while they’d like for him to hit better, the White Sox continue to be happy with what Flowers provides them through game calling and pitch framing.
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Flowers currently ranks second in Extra Strikes caught in the majors. White Sox ace Chris Sale constantly lauds Flowers’ game calling and trusts him to work through a start.
“I definitely hang my hat on that, especially this year,” Flowers said.
So does the coaching staff.
“You can always work on and get better at (offense),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There will be years where he'll have a better offensive season than others. But being able to handle a staff, calling games, is the number one priority for a catcher.
“You're comfortable with the way he calls a game. He’s done much better catching a game, calling a game, than he has in the past. I think he's elevated that to where he's getting some pitchers through some games.”