Quietly, 2017 is proving to be the best season of Jordy Mercer’s career
Jordy Mercer made his Major League debut in 2012. In 2013, he became a mainstay on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 25-man roster. Then in 2014, he became the team’s starting shortstop where he has remained ever since.
During his time in the Major Leagues Jordy Mercer has been a very up and down player. He has had some good defensive seasons and some good offensive seasons. However, he has never put both together in the same season before.
In 2017, though, that appears to be changing. Through his first 66 games of the season, Jordy Mercer has been both an above league average hitter and defender. Very quietly, he is putting together the best season of his Major League career.
After hitting his 6th home run of the season on Sunday Jordy Mercer now owns a .329 wOBA and a 104 wRC+ this season. Both of these numbers are above league average (.320 and 100) and are the second highest such numbers of his career outside of 2013. Furthermore, his .356 on-base percentage and 10.7 percent walk rate are both career bests.
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Jordy Mercer has also been the Pirates’ most clutch hitter this season. He leads the team with an 119 OPS+ in high leverage situations, as well as with a 144 OPS+ in at-bats where the game is late and close.
A big reason for Mercer’s improvement at the plate this season comes from simply making better contact. His 22.8 percent line drive rate is tied for the highest line drive rate of his career, while his 29.2 percent hard contact rate is the best of his career.
On top of being an above average hitter this season, Jordy Mercer has also been an above league average defender at shortstop. This season he has a defensive runs saved (DRS) of +2 at shortstop. Mercer has not finished with a positive DRS since 2014. Additionally, his UZR/150 of 2.6 is the second highest of his career. His .989 fielding percentage ranks fifth in the National League among players with at least 250 innings at shortstop this season.
Currently, Jordy Mercer owns a 1.4 fWAR. This is already the third best fWAR of his career, and he is well on his way to surpassing his previous career best of 2.0.
During the offseason, the Pirates attempted to reach a contract extension with Jordy Mercer. This, of course, did not happen. But now that Mercer is having the best season of his career, this is something that the Pirate brass may feel the desire to revisit.