Pittsburgh Pirates Report Card: Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer Pace Middle Infielders


In this third installment of my Pittsburgh Pirates report card, the middle infield gets graded:

Neil Walker

This was Walker’s most complete season, however once again injury ruined a full season and leaves fans to wonder if that can happen again. Walker played 159 games against 2011, but has not approached that number since. In some aspects this was his best season defensively as he had a career low five errors (unless you count 2009 when he had one in nine games).

I am encouraged by Walker’s career high 23 home runs as well as his 76 RBI, but it was a contract year. While he is still under club control, Walker now is due for a pay increase. He will be arbitration eligible for the first time. The Pirates have a significant case for going under what Walker deserves with the durability questions, but I still believe that increase will come. I do feel the increased stats did have something to do with motivation for that bigger contract.

The biggest thing I do like about Walker is that for all the criticism that he cannot hit lefties, he was a .280 hitter against them last season. His worst offensive month was one in which he hit .277 and missed 10 games. That is not bad at all. Second half grade: A- Overall: A-

Jordy Mercer

I am glad to be proven wrong. Mercer had a terrible first two months on both sides of the ball but manager Clint Hurdle stuck with him and it worked out. His hitting progressively got better and his defensive WAR is 1.7. His confidence defensively grew which was a big surprise and showed his work ethic as well as the advice from Clint Barmes paid off.

After months of .232 and .244 to start the season, Mercer batted .299 (five home runs), .385, .337 and .313. His 12 home runs and 55 RBI were pleasant surprises, especially when he regularly hit at the bottom of the line up. Despite this there still a chance come June or July he could be on the bench again, but his growth was not noted as much as it should have been with Josh Harrison doing what he did. Second half grade: A Overall: B+

Clint Barmes

This one will be short, much like Barmes’ season. I was expecting Barmes to be healthy, but instead he seemed more like a player-coach this season. While he was partially responsible for Mercer’s growth, it should be noted that he was expected to contribute and offensively I came away disappointed.

If you are reading this article Pirates management, please provide a slight upgrade here. Second half grade: INC (only played six games) Overall: D+