Stats Corner: Mercer's bat historically bad in 2014
Shortstops are generally a light-hitting bunch, compiling the lowest on-base plus slugging percentage (.683) of any spot on the diamond. But even by that modest standard, Jordy Mercer has been a wreck at the plate. The 27-year-old slugged his way into the lineup last year, but he's struggling to get the ball out of the infield in 2014 — and challenging franchise records for offensive ineptitude in the process.
Mercer was the majors' eighth-best hitter among shortstops in 2013 as measured by OPS+, which adjusts a player's OPS for park and league factors and places it on a scale where 100 is average. In the National League, only Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond topped Mercer's 118 OPS+ (minimum 300 plate appearances).
This year, Mercer's adjusted OPS is 68 percent below the MLB average. With a 32 OPS+, he is turning in one of the all-time worst offensive performances for a Pirates shortstop.
All glove, no bat
Player Season OPS+
Enrique Wilson 2001 11
Brian Bixler 2008 15
Huck Geary 1943 22
Mario Mendoza 1976 30
Jordy Mercer 2014 32
Mercer has been somewhat unlucky (his batting average on balls in play is just .224), but he's channeling Mario Mendoza in part because his ground ball rate has spiked from 46.8 percent last season to 60.5 percent this year. Driving pitches into the dirt so often, Mercer has yet to homer entering play Saturday.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle continues to play Mercer despite his poor start, hoping the shortstop can reclaim his 2013 form. That's a stretch, but one projection system predicts Mercer will post a .667 OPS during the rest of the season — close to the positional average and comfortably above the projection for Barmes (.591).
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.