Despite playing mostly in a part-time role, Pittsburgh Pirates’ shortstop Jordy Mercer figured heavily in the success the Bucs had last season.
Many expected Mercer’s success with the bat to translate to a productive 2014 campaign now that he is in an everyday role.
Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case.
Mercer is hitting a mere .143 (5 for 35) without an extra base hit so far, with only one RBI and an OPS of .393 in 12 games played.
Needless to say, Mercer hasn’t made a smooth transition.
It’s early in the season and you hope that Mercer will find some confidence at the plate, something that will only happen by continuing to run him out there every day.
One thing that can get Mercer potentially going is for the Pirates to start seeing some left-handed pitching. With most of their early-season games inside the National League Central, there haven’t been many opportunities for this team to get a look at many southpaws.
A year ago Mercer owned left-handed pitching, hitting to a .410 clip, compared to hitting .247 against right-handers.
His struggles against righty pitching alone made me cautious about simply handing the job over to Mercer, as that is a big area he is going to have to improve in order to become a legitimate everyday MLB player.
Mercer’s going to have to handle the bat much better early on in the season in order for Hurdle to keep running him out there on an daily basis.
If he doesn’t, it could be back to a part-time role for Mercer, which is something that he might be better suited for.