The Pittsburgh Pirates have have not had a winning record in a season since 1992, which was also the last time they made the postseason. But after winning their sixth game in a row Wednesday night, they are now 48-30 and share the National League Central lead (and the best record in baseball) with the St. Louis Cardinals.
One of the young players that has emerged for the Pirates this season is shortstop Jordy Mercer. He played 42 games for the team in 2012, hitting .210 with one home run and five RBI over 62 at-bats, but since being called up in May he is hitting .286 with a .460 slugging percentage over 137 plate appearances. Manager Clint Hurdle has committed to him as the team’s primary shortstop going forward, and his ability to come through in the clutch (.391 batting average with runners in scoring position) should keep Mercer in the lineup on a regular basis.
Should fantasy baseball owners look to add Pittsburgh’s young shortstop?
Mercer’s current batting average on balls in play (.337) reflects a little bit of good luck, and the power he has shown (four home runs, eight doubles) is noteworthy for a middle infielder. His minor league track record suggests that production might not be sustainable, with 42 home runs and a .268 batting average in over 2,000 at-bats, but it’s worth noting that this is Mercer’s age-27 season and he could be entering his prime as a hitter.
Mercer is available in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues right now, and owners in NL-only leagues that need a middle infielder can consider adding him immediately. He does have some appeal in deep mixed leagues as well, if only for the fact that Clint Barmes is no threat to take significant playing time away, but I would like to see Mercer sustain his current offensive production for a bit longer before adding him in that format.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.