Pittsburgh Pirates: A look at the 2015 team’s offensive ZiPS projections

3 of 5

Sep 23, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop

Jordy Mercer

(10) dives back into first base against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jordy Mercer projected to outperform Jung-ho Kang

The biggest acquisition of the offseason for Pittsburgh was Korean slugger Jung-ho Kang, who came to the Steel City on an $11 million deal – which could be a steal given he led the KBO with 40 home runs in 2014. However, the Korean league is known to be hitter-friendly, and Kang’s numbers aren’t expected to be elite here in the States.

According to the ZiPS projections, Kang will post a 1.5 WAR in just over 500 plate appearances – a decent mark for a big league rookie. To go along with that, the infielder is projected to hit 14 home runs, drive in 57 runs and add 26 doubles – while posting a slash-line of .230/.299/.389 – which leaves plenty to be desired.

Perhaps more surprising is the fact that some of Kang’s main competition for playing time moving forward, Jordy Mercer, is set to outperform his Korean counterpart, with a 1.9 WAR to go with his 10 long-balls, 50 RBI and a much more sightly .254/.304/.390 line.

This will be a key battle to keep an eye on this season. If Kang struggles to get on base, which is expected, look for Mercer to seize the opportunity in 2015.