Jordy Mercer Leading Off

Sep 2, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) is congratulated by third base coach Nick Leyva (16) after hitting a solo home run off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (not pictured) during the third inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The long awaited question of who will bat first for the Pittsburgh Pirates against left handed starters might have been answered against David Price and the Red Soxs.  Clint Hurdle ran out a lineup with Jordy Mercer atop it. A move that will likely reap a large amount of backlash from fans, similar to how it was when Mercer batted leadoff for the club against the St. Louis Cardinals before the All Star break.

The right handed Mercer has been a somewhat disappointment after his 2013 season, which saw him hit .285/.336/.435 in 365 plate appearances and 103 games. His wRC+ was 115, well above league average and among shortstops with a minimum of 300 plate appearances, Mercer ranked 7th out of the 36 players that qualified. But after a slow start in 2014 – and another slow start in 2015 – the Pirates everyday shortstop had fans clamoring for a new starter and the wanting of Jung Ho Kang to start at short. But even with the decrease in power and the slow starts, Jordy Mercer has done one thing well, and better than most, and that is crush left handed pitching.

Since the 29 year old shortstop got the call up on May 29, 2012 he has continually been among the best against left handers, and has been part of a lineup that features Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, two other players that feast on lefties. In his career Mercer has hit, be it in a sample of 320 plate appearances, he has hit .324/.374/.490 against left handed pitching. He has been aided by a strong BAbip of .348, but he has been among the elite at his position against left handed pitchers.

Jul 1, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Since the start of 2012, among shortstops with 300 plate appearances, Jordy Mercer ranks first in Batting Average, third in On Base Percentage (.374), and third in Slugging Percentage (.490), his wRC+ of 144 is second to only Troy Tulowitzki. Among shortstops, Mercer has been one of the best against lefties, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Out of the 270 players with a minimum of 300 plate appearances against left handed pitching, Mercer ranks 9th in average, ranking slightly ahead of Miguel Cabrera, he ranks 35th in On Base, 46th in Slugging, and 23rd in wRC+. His bat will play against left handed pitching

Jordy Mercer is not the perfect player, but against left handed pitching, he might be the perfect candidate to leadoff. To start the season with a potential lineup of:

Jordy Mercer- career .324/.374/.490 144 wRC+

Andrew McCutchen- career .328/.416/.565 169 wRC+

David Freese- career .296/.367/.459 131 wRC+

Starling Marte- career .311/.365/.499 142 wRC+

Francisco Cervelli- career .301/.385/.420 125 wRC+

Michael Morse- career .273/.335/.472 122 wRC+

Josh Harrison- career .285/.321/.425 107 wRC+

Gregory Polanco- career .183/.239/.264 41 wRC+

With Jung Ho Kang starting the year on the DL, his career slash, obviously limited to just last season, is .238/.340/.381 and 107 wRC+.

This year’s Pirates team will look to improve on their .250/.313/.373 slash and their 91 wRC+ against left handed pitching, ranking 19th in Average, 20th in On Base Percentage, 22nd in Slugging Percentage, and 20th in wRC+. By batting Jordy Mercer first and getting himself, McCutchen, and Marte as many opportunities to face the left handed pitcher, will almost always be a starter, could/should be a major improvement in this area.

*Numbers from and