Pirate Nation got it’s first extended look at Jordy Joe Mercer last year as the potential shortstop of the future for the buccos…..and let me tell you. The future looks bright.
He has shown that he can be the offensive force at shortstop that we haven’t had in Pittsburgh for decades. Many fans don’t realize just how good of a season he had at the plate in 2013 and I’ll prove it to you. Quick, who was second in batting average for the Pirates in 2013. (from players that played in more than 30 games).
Give up? I’ll give you a hint… it was Jordy Mercer. He hit .285 in 103 games last year. Good for 4th best among NL Shortstops with players with 300 AB or more. He also had a .336 OBP and a .771 OPS. Not bad for a guy getting his first real playing time in the heat of a pennant race wouldn’t you say?
Still not convinced he’s our guy? Let me put that season in perspective for you. In the last 20 years, there has only been two seasons that produced more offense by a Pirate shortstop. Both were by Jack Wilson in 2007 & 2004. Jack hit .296 and .308 respectively and he capped out at 12 home runs. Those were career years for Jack Wilson. Jordy almost topped that offensive production in year 1. We’d have to go way back to Jay Bell in the early 90’s to find another year better than Jordy’s 2013. Think about that.
So why isn’t he getting talked about more? I never hear his name when it comes to talking about the up and coming young shortstops in the league. He’s not even in the conversation despite the fact that he out hit most everyone at that position in the National League last year….. with ease.
He’s shown the ability to hit for power. It’s not beyond him to put up 15+ home runs in a full season. He’s shown he can hit for average and be patient at the plate. He’s shown that he has big play ability by coming up with the clutch hits several different times in 2013. So is it his defense that is preventing the excitement over him? Don’t let it be. It’s going to improve.
Remember last September? Pirates were cruising to a victory over the Reds in a very important game with major playoff implications. Liraino pitched an 8 inning gem and Melancon took the field in the 9th to close out the game.…..done deal right. Well it was until Jordy fielded a routine grounder and then inexplicably launched the ball into the Reds dugout.
The Reds capitalized on the error and stormed back that inning to score three runs and tie it up. They eventually beat the Pirates in the 10th and that loss pretty much shut the door on the Pirate’s chances of catching the Cardinals and winning the division.
I studied Jordy closely after that error as any player could have cracked under the weight of what just happened. And what I saw made me more confident than ever that the Pirates have their Short Stop of the future.
After a quick pat in the glove and shake of the head it was back to business. There was no visible, residual effects from perhaps making the biggest error of the season up to that point. Not one further sign of disappointment, disbelief, despair. Nothing. He looked like he did an inning ago. He moved on. And after every big play I’ve seen him make last year… that by far was the most impressive.
Even a seasoned veteran would have had difficulty shrugging off a play that could have cost his team the chance to win the division. But in baseball you have to have the memory of a gold fish or you won’t be a consistent player. And Jordy proved he’s not intimidated. He belongs.
Granted he needs to continue improving on his defense, which he will. Since offense is his strength, he’ll need to remain consistent at the plate and avoid the dry spells that plague so many major league hitters, which he will. And when it’s all said and done, whether you realize it or not, the Pirates have a potential top 6 or 7 MLB offensive shortstop on their hands. Another hidden gem that was a product of the best farm system in the game.
So keep an eye on the 3rd round pick out of Oklahoma State. Watch him excel this year and raise eyebrows across the league. Watch him consistently put up multi-hit games and produce clutch hits when it counts. Watch him hit 15+ Home Runs. Watch him get mobbed by the dugout when he gets the walk-off hit. And marvel at how improved he is in the field.
Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so..