Jordy Mercer’s Bat Turning Around in June

Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer started the 2015 season in much the same way as he did the 2014 campaign.

Poorly.

After two months in 2014, Mercer was batting .199 as the calendar turned to June. Once again, through two months in 2015, Mercer again sat below the Mendoza line.

Mercer batted .197/.275/.197 in April, without collecting a single extra-base hit. He was worse in May, posting a .188/.222/.246 slash line.

As he struggled for the second year in a row, it seemed the leash might be a little shorter in 2015. Due not only to his lack of performance, but also with Jung-ho Kang pushing him as the Pirates new infielder posted a .799 OPS in those two months.

In June 2014, Mercer finally got his act together and hit .267/.299/.436. A .735 OPS from a shortstop in today’s game is pretty solid.

June 2015 has held similar success for the shortstop.

A peak, after spending much of his season in a valley, came Friday for Mercer as his double in the 10th inning lifted the Pirates to a 3-2 walk-off win against the Atlanta Braves.

“He’s had a bunch of good at-bats leading up to that at-bat,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s really swung the bat much better. The numbers are playing out for some while now. Bat off the ball, hard outs.”

Mercer is hitting .257/.304/.405 in June, his first month hitting over .200 and posting an OPS that doesn’t begin with a 4.

“Obviously the way you start, the way I start, is definitely not the way I want to start but you’ve got to keep telling yourself it’s a long season, there’s a long way to go,” Mercer said. “You’ve got to keep giving yourself opportunities and let you work the kinks out and get back to what you’re good at.”

He went 3-for-5 Friday, his second consecutive multi-hit game.

“It was nice to see him get a reward,” Hurdle said. “He pounded that ball to right field.”

It helped that at-bat came against former Pirates closer Jason Grilli, which helped.

Mercer fouled off a slider from Grilli to start the at-bat and then took another for ball one. With the count 1-1, Grilli turned to his fastball to get ahead and did so as Mercer fouled the pitch off to fall down 1-2.

Grilli brought his fastball again and Mercer sent a tailing fly ball off the Clemente Wall to score the game-winning run.

“The first two pitches he threw sliders and caught me off guard and the pitch before I hit I fouled off,” Mercer said. “He just beat me. I was ready for it. I know he’s not going to go away from his strength. I had an idea of what’s coming.”

While Mercer’s struggles this season and last are well-documented, Hurdle will always be the last one to give up on his players. Sometimes maybe even not at all.

When players like Mercer justify Hurdle’s optimism, and deliver moments like Friday’s walk-off, they make their manager look pretty good.

“Many times I’ll just grab him and say ‘I believe in you,'” Hurdle said. “‘This is gonna grow you up. This is gonna make you better.’ Nobody wants to go through anything like this but it makes you better.”

Mercer’s numbers still are an eyesore at .225/.276/.306, but if his next three months resemble last year’s pattern the Pirates will take the boon to their offense. From June through September 2014, Mercer was above a .700 OPS in each month and posted two months over .800.

“I haven’t lost confidence because I think last year was a testament, it was huge for me and for this whole organization, for skip keeping trust in me,” Mercer said. “This year it’s been the same. The last couple weeks I’ve been hitting the ball so hard, seeing it so well. I’m in a good place and I know eventually it’s going to work out for me.”

  • He’s a decent player, nothing more. Hoping Gift Ngoepe figures his bat out and supplants him for a couple years until Tucker arrives.

  • Who sits for Kang? Mercer or Polanco? Maybe Walker?

  • Glad to see Jordy break out a bit. Now if only Polanco could live up to his hype. Maybe Hurdle has to tell him how much he loves and believes in him?

    • Like bradshaw said, if chuck noll woulda patted me on the butt one time ida gone out and killed for him. Must have worked , four rings and the hall of fame later. So by all means give polanco a pat on the butt, a little encouragement certainly can’t hurt.

  • Shortstop has depth, still needs an upgrade, either internal or external.

    • Pilbo, I think if you look at what the Pirates have and what is out there, SS will not be high on their list at the deadline. Mercer has the potential to put up a .725-.750 OPS from here down the stretch. That is more than fine for a #8 hitter that plays defense. First Base, another starter, and another reliever stand out for me.

      • I agree, they have guys internally who are or can be as good as anybody out there for a whole lot less salad, mercer is ok fr now, I just see him as a placeholder with a bit of pop.

      • On a side note, don’t you think it’s kinda weird guys have to go out and find people to teach them how to hit the ball to all fields or just how to maximize their potential, marlon bryd for example. These are things that should be ingrained from little league on up.

  • he has hit some hard outs in june also, add those 5-10 hits and he would have a really nice june.

    • Same thing on April and May. He has a good LD rate compared to his BABIP.

      • Strikeout rate has decreased too. Mercer has a sound approach at the plate. Mercer is a poor man’s JJ Hardy. (When Hardy was in his prime)

  • Mercer is a nice player. It was fitting Pedro struck out looking in a key ab and then Mercer came up and won it. Despite Mercer’s .225 average I would take him any day and situation over Pedro. Alvarez is making more errors per inning than Cole Tucker. Pedro makes more errors at 1B than an 18 year old SS in the minors. I love to know the last time a 1B had 10 errors before July. 1940 maybe?

    • I would not be surprised to see Pedro non-tendered in the off season. Charlie W had a good article on that over at BD.

      • While I don’t think pedro will be non tendered I do think he will be traded at some point, either this off season (most likely) or at the deadline.

    • Probably only have to go back to the late 50’s and Dick Stuart to find the answer to your question. The nickname of Dr. Strange glove was as fitting as any I have ever heard.

      Pedro is on his way to an AL team where he can be a DH.

    • Yes I was hoping Pedro would k and not hit into a double play. What a wish to have your supposed power bat strike out.

    • Brian Finamore
      June 27, 2015 2:47 pm

      So… your segue into the Pedro bashing is that he batted before Mercer? I don’t see what Pedro has to do with this topic whatsoever. Also, who was that guy with a 2-out 2 RBI hit last night that got them to extra innings where Mercer got the hit? The seemed like a pretty “key AB” to me.

      Is Pedro frustrating? Absolutely. But the one-sided point of views are getting old, especially when they come in response to a completely unrelated topic.

      • I paid my $30. I’ll talk about whatever is on my mind. Pedro has hit the ball the last few nights. All the other things I mention about Pedro are permanent and therefore pretty one-sided.

  • Jordy may be struggling at the plate, but improvement is being made, and his true worth to this team is the solid bat at No. 8, and the excellent and very efficient glove for a team that lives with the ground ball. Presently a .985 fielding percentage good for No. 7 amongst all shortstops, and a Range Factor higher than that. This is the shortstop we can win with in 2015!

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