By Jason Shetler
Jordy Mercer became the Pirates shortstop on a regular basis in the second half of the 2013 season following the offensive struggles of Clint Barmes. In 2014, Mercer became the first homegrown shortstop to start on Opening Day for the Pirates since Lou Collier in 1998. Here are Mercer’s stats each of the last two years, and what his projection is for this season.
2014: .255/.305/.387, 94 OPS+, 6.3% BB rate, 16.0% K rate, 2.0 WAR in 149 games
2015: .244/.293/.320, 70 OPS+, 6.3% BB rate, 17.0% K rate, 0.5 WAR in 115 games
2016 (FanGraphs): .251/.307/.346, 7.0% BB rate, 16.6% rate, 1.3 WAR in 135 games
While Mercer’s offensive numbers weren’t that good in 2014, they were more towards league average than compared to last year. To his credit however, he’s been productive against left-handed pitching, posting a .771 OPS against them the last couple seasons. Mercer is perhaps one of the more underrated defensive shortstops in baseball right now, which helped him become a two-win player in 2014 and avoid being completely replacement level last season. The FanGraphs projection for Mercer sees him putting up similar numbers from two years ago.
My analysis: Jordy Mercer has been mediocre offensively the past two seasons, as he’s posted a .299 on base percentage along with OPS+ of 82. His offense against left-handers however have been good, so it’s not as if he’s completely useless at the plate. Mercer’s defense has also been very reliable with a .984 fielding percentage and a 1.1 dWAR. Last offseason, he was rated the sixth best defensive shortstop in baseball according to the Fielding Bible. The Pirates committed the most errors as a team in 2015. Outside of Starling Marte, Mercer was one of their few bright spots on the defensive side.