Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 Positional Recap: Shortstop
The Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a lot of different players and different positions this past season. So let us analyze and recap what each position saw in 2016. Shortstop might have been the most consistent position in 2016.
The Pittsburgh Pirates may not have the best shortstop in baseball, but they sure have a reliable one. Just a few years ago many fans wanted a new shortstop. Many said that Jordy Mercer was not a very good player including some us writers here at Rum Bunter. However, Mercer has proved us wrong over this past season.
Expectations were not high for the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop entering the 2016 season. This is mainly because he was coming off the worst year of his career in 2015. Jordy saw himself post an abysmal batting line of .244 with a .613 OPS. Many were questioning entering the season if Kang could play shortstop or if the Bucs would try to move Hanson back to short to replace Mercer. However, Jordy knew he struggled in 2015 and it was mainly because he got off to a slow start. He seemed determined to not let that happen for the 2016 season.
Mercer proved to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the fans that he was not going to start off slow. He silenced his critics by batting a solid .318 and an .806 OPS through the month of April. This is compared to the .197 he hit through April of the 2015 season. This was a great sign as many viewed Mercer as the one below average player on this offense. With him going it would greatly improve the offense. However, Mercer regressed a bit during the month of May. In May he had his worst month batting .231 with an OPS under .600. Still this was better than his 2015 May where he batted .188. Even with him batting .231 it seemed like Mercer was still in a better spot than 2015.
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Mercer really proved to be much better offensively in the 2016 season. He finished the year with a batting average of .256 and an OPS of .701. The shortstop also added 11 home runs which was eight more than the previous season. He also put up a good on-base percentage of .328 which is about 70 points higher than his batting average which is always good to see. Now none of these numbers are overly impressive, but what they are is solid. Jordy Mercer will never be a big time baseball player, but if he can provide at-least average offense he will be a nice player to have in the shortstop spot.
In conclusion Mercer had a nice bounce back year at the plate. After really struggling offensively in 2015 many were not expecting much from Mercer in 2016. Mercer obviously came in with the right mentality and knew he had to perform better. One concern is his defense. Mercer had a -10.6 UZR/150 for the 2016 season, his worst of his career. UZR/150 defines the number of a runs a player is a held accountable for. This means that Mercer counted for ten runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This a is a big drop off for him and is kind of worrisome. With that he only needs to last one more season there as top shortstop prospect Kevin Newman will be ready for the 2018 season.
Mercer played in 149 games this season and gave the Bucs a 1.3 WAR. He gave off to Sean Rodrgiuez in the other games. Jordy Mercer will be the opening day shortstop for 2017. Hopefully he will start strong offensively and get back to his career average defensively. If so the Pittsburgh Pirates will not ha any worries from the shortstop position in 2017. Jordy Mercer is a solid player nothing more, but in a league where it is hard to find good shortstops an average all around one is great to have!