Stats Corner: Mercer rediscovers offensive game
Jordy Mercer provided thump at a position typically filled by offensive lightweights in 2013, compiling a .772 on base plus slugging percentage that ranked seventh among major league shortstops.
At 27 years old and fresh off the best-hitting year for a Pirates shortstop since Jack Wilson in 2004, Mercer seemingly had some job security.
Now, with Mercer dragging a .638 OPS into play Saturday, GM Neal Huntington may be exploring the trade market. Short of a blockbuster deal, however, Mercer could still be the Pirates' best option as they chase a second consecutive playoff appearance.
In April, Mercer hit like he swapped bodies with Mario Mendoza. He posted the worst OPS among qualified shortstops that month. But he has progressively turned back into an offensive threat, cracking the top five at the position in July.
Month OPS Rank among SS
April .404 30
May .594 24
June .735 14
July .761 5
Mercer's making harder contact, raising his line drive rate from 12.5 percent in April and May to 20 percent since June 1. Line drives fall for hits about 67 percent of the time, so the more frozen ropes, the better.
Unless the Pirates go big-game hunting, surrendering prized prospects and assuming more than $120 million in future salary to acquire Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki, there are few definite shortstop upgrades available.
Mercer is projected for a .675 OPS during the rest of 2014, according to the Steamer forecast system on Fangraphs. That's right around the MLB average for shortstops (.671) and similar to potential targets such as Elvis Andrus (.685), Alexei Ramirez (.685), Didi Gregorius (.684), Jimmy Rollins (.680) and Yunel Escobar (.673).
Internally, Double-A prospect Alen Hanson (.628 projected OPS) probably isn't ready for prime time. Josh Harrison could be an option, but he's projected to regress offensively (.701) and might be stretched defensively, considering the Pirates have the game's most ground ball-centric pitching staff.
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Not too early to go with Kang
- Pirates’ offense still stuck in a rut during setback to Reds at PNC
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle has full confidence in McCutchen’s knee
- Starkey: Pirates’ trade of Snider still reeks
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds, May 6, 2015
- Pirates pitcher Cole climbing list with each consecutive win
- Pirates’ decision to walk bases loaded backfires in 10th
- Pirates notebook: Opponents running wild on Bucs
- Pirates notebook: Burnett shrugs off moving up all-time strikeout list
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds, May 5, 2015
- Pirates’ McCutchen collects 1,000th career hit in victory over Cubs