Right Field - Orlando Merced
Our final player of the day is our second player who’s original team is the Pirates. That’s Orlando Merced. The Pirates signed Merced in February 1985 as a shortstop. He also saw time at second base, third base, and the outfield, however he’d eventually settle into a 1B/RF role by the time he made the major leagues. Merced made his debut in 1990, though his rookie season would be the following year.
Merced had a pretty decent rookie campaign, batting .275/.373/.399. Although he had an isolated slugging percentage of just .124, he walked at a high 13.4% rate while having a 16.9% strikeout rate. Merced almost only played first base this season, where he was about an average defender. At the end of the season, Merced landed second in Rookie Of The Year voting.
Merced’s best season with the Pirates came in 1993 when he slashed .313/.414/.443. Merced still didn’t hit for much power with a .130 isolated slugging percentage, though he made up for it by drawing walks (77) more often than he struck out (64). Merced mostly played right field this year as well, with +4 total zone runs. Though his days at first base weren’t completely over, as he still saw 278.2 innings at the corner infield position.
Overall, Merced had a productive tenure in Pittsburgh. He batted .283/.364/.428 through seven seasons. He walked at an 11.4% rate while having a decent 14.2% strikeout rate. He also had a .350 wOBA, and while this was in the steroid era, Merced was still about 14% above league average with a 114 wRC+.
The Pirates then traded Merced to the Toronto Blue Jays in November of 1996 in a nine-player trade. Merced would bounce around from team-to-team from 1997 until his last season in 2003. That includes the Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos, and Houston Astros.
Between these six teams and six major league seasons, Merced batted .266/.337/.422 with a .331 wOBA, and 94 wRC+. Merced still maintained a strong 15.3% strikeout rate, while his walk rate dipped to 9.5%. However, he did hit for more power during this time, with a .155 isolated slugging percentage. Merced’s last days in professional baseball wouldn’t be until the 2005-2006 off-season when he was still active in the Puertorican Winter League.