Recently, Jordy Mercer was named the sixth best shortstop in baseball, at least according to MLB.com. My initial reaction was one of befuddlement, especially as Mercer does not exactly have the starting shortstop position locked down with the arrival of Jeong-ho Kang. Can he really be that great of a shortstop if the Pirates are bringing in someone who could wind up taking over his spot?
Naturally, this has led me to wonder what, exactly, I am missing with Mercer. Is he just the kind of player that his true value does not show up statistically? Is Mercer more than the sum of his parts? Or does Jordy Mercer just have compromising photographs of someone at MLB.com, and they programmed their statistical analysis tool to give bonus points to any shortstop named Jordy?
Obviously, since we cannot really delve into the possibility that Jordy Mercer has evidence of illegal activities involving the head honchos at MLB.com, let us look at his statistics. Offensively, Mercer is generally solid. A slow start contributed to his .255/.305/.387 batting line, and he did hit twelve home runs. However, those numbers are not exactly special.
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Where Mercer truly excelled is on the defensive side. Last season, Mercer led the National League with 21 runs saved as a shortstop, and ranked second overall behind Jason Heyward. Given a chance to be a full time player, Mercer was second with 439 assists and fourth with a .982 fielding percentage at short. He was certainly stellar with the glove.
Is that defensive capability really worth the sixth spot on the list? If so, one would have to expect that Andrelton Simmons would rank higher than tenth and that Alcides Escobar would crack the top ten. Yet, Jordy Mercer rates higher than both. Interesting.
Perhaps it really is that Jordy Mercer is more than what he would appear to be statistically. Perhaps the “Shredder” program MLB.com used truly knows more than everyone else. Or, there may have been a bit of programming bias as Mercer withheld some interesting pictures for a place on the list.