Shortstops are usually the captains of their respective infield. The Pittsburgh Pirates have themselves a pretty good one in Jordy Mercer. Many people are quick to hate on Mercer, but he proved last year why that hate is unwarranted. He will return to short in 2017 and will once again give Pittsburgh little reason to worry about the heart of the infield.
Jordy Mercer Proving his Worth for the Pirates
The 30-year-old righty has been with the Pirates organization since 2008, when he was selected with the 79th overall pick in the MLB Draft. He played his college ball for Oklahoma State, where he served as shortstop and closer. He set the school’s record for saves, and was named a Big 12 All-Star in 2006 and 2008.
Finally Given a Chance
After Jung-Ho Kang had not returned to the playing field at the beginning of the season due to his torn meniscus suffered towards the end of 2015, Mercer was given full reign at short, and was only rested for a few games over the course of the season for super utility guy Sean Rodriguez. Mercer responded to that by playing superb defense and having one of the best offensive season’s of his career.
He was able to post career highs in plate appearances (584), at-bats (519), hits (133), RBI (59), triples (3), and walks (51). He fell one short of tying his highest home run output in a season, as he hit 11 in 2016.
He was a part of 95 double-plays and had a .985 fielding percentage. His range seemed to be much improved, and he constantly showed off the arm strength that has always been there for the former Cowboy.
Mercer’s Future in Pittsburgh
Buccos Manager Clint Hurdle has said that Mercer will be spelled by guys such as Adam Frazier this season, due to the high volume of games he played last season. It’s likely Kang won’t be returning to shortstop after taking a year off from the position to heal and being given the chance to win the third base job.
Currently, it seems the only competition at shortstop for the upcoming season is Frazier, who will serve in a utility role anyway and is not a seasoned veteran like Mercer.
The Pirates have prospect Kevin Newman waiting in the wings, and it’s likely he is the shortstop of the future for the Pirates. The end of Mercer’s time in the Steel City could likely come relatively soon. He will play this year and next on arbitration contracts, and then will probably give way to Newman.
Mercer isn’t exactly your prototypical, household name at shortstop, but he gets the job done and that is exactly what the Pirates need him to do.