2015 Pittsburgh Pirates Gradeout: Jordy Mercer
The offseason is unfortunately here and so we are simultaneously tasked with reflecting on the 2015 season and looking forward to next spring. As part of Rumbunter’s off-season coverage, we will be grading out virtually every Pirates’ player who spent substantial time on the team’s 25-man roster over the past season. We will look at their seasons as a whole, show you their relevant stats, and assign a final grade to each player.
You would be hard pressed to find a more polarizing player on the Pittsburgh Pirates than Jordy Mercer. Prior to Jung Ho Kang‘s injury, any time Mercer was in the lineup, it was World War III on Twitter. You’d think Jordy Mercer was the worst starting short stop in the league with some of the absolute anger any time he stepped foot on the field. Was the anger warranted? Absolutely not.
Mercer wasn’t an offensive juggernaut in 2015 by any means, and his bat was surpassed by the great work of Jung Ho Kang, but defensively he blew Kang away at short stop. Mercer finished 2015 third in fielding percentage (.986) fourth in Total Runs Saved (13), and third with Range Factor. (4.34) While his bat may have been mostly mediocre, his defense was pretty damn stellar. He did all of this great work, while only playing in 116 games this season. Mercer has quietly become one of the elite defenders in Major Leauge baseball. Most of his WAR came from his defense as he was worth 0.6dWAR in 2015. He might not win any popularity contests on Twitter, but it’s hard to deny Jordy Mercer’s defensive value.
You can’t talk about Mercer’s solid defensively without talking about his short comings on offense in 2015. He simply put wasn’t great. His overall numbers are about what you’d expect from a below average offensive short stop. When Mercer took over the starting short stop job from Clint Barmes in 2013, it was because of his stellar offense, but since then his numbers have gotten progressively worse, while his defense has gotten much, much better.
One aspect of Mercer’s game that has continued is the ability to hit left handed pitching. So in 2016 when he’s hitting second against a left handed starter, that’s why. No reason to get super angry on Twitter and use the #Hurdled hashtag. Mercer has always been better against LHP, but in 2015 it was super apparent that if not for Mercer’s defensive value, he’d likely be a straight platoon player.
What can you say about a guy with strong defensive value and mostly underwhelming offense? Well honestly that balances out to a slightly below average Major League Player. Mercer has plenty of value but it’s mostly situational and defensive. Nothing wrong with that by any means, but nothing spectacular either. Mercer still gets way too much hate from a chunk of the fanbase and I don’t see that going away any time soon.
He’s a below average hitter that’s a solid fielder, in the old days, we called that a short stop. However, we now live in the modern era with lots of talented two-way short stops, so Mercer looks worse compared to those players, but there is still value in having him on the team and seeing playing time. Just accept Mercer for who he is, not who you wish he was. He may never win a silver slugger, but he can definitely save a game or two with his glove. A good defensive short stop adds a lot to a big league team. Especially one that has been known to make mistakes in the field, like the Pittsburgh Pirates.