Starter: Jordy Mercer
Backup: Pedro Florimon
I’ll go on record saying the Pirates need more from their shortstop position, particularly Jordy Mercer. Defensively, it’s tough to find a more consistent player than Jordy; he’s only had 7 errors last year in 115 games.
At this point it’s fair to question whether Mercer’s 2013 season was a fluke. That year he took the starting shortstop job away from Clint Barmes with his stellar play in the field and at the plate. Mercer hit .285 in 2013, but his average has dropped significantly over the past two seasons. His walk and strikeout percentages have remained similar to his 2013 totals, but his batting average on balls in play has dropped from .330 in 2013 to .290 last year.
It’s rare to see a drop like that in players still considered to be in their prime. Jordy is only 29, so it’s fair to expect an increase in production out of him, but I wouldn’t expect a significant difference. If he can get his average to .250, and increase his on-base percentage back over .300, I’m sure the Pirates would be pleased.
With Jung-Ho Kang still injured, there is a glaring hole at this position after Mercer. I’m sure very few Pirates’ fans thought they’d ever see Pedro Florimon back in uniform for the Bucs, but he’s currently listed as the backup shortstop.
Florimon can’t hit and that’s really no secret. In his one near-full season in the majors in 2013, he hit .221 in 134 games. Man, those were some bad Twins teams. In his past two stints on a major league roster, he’s hit under .100.
While it’s clear he couldn’t “insert expression about hitting a barn here”, Florimon is an adequate fielder. That’s why he’ll make the Pirates’ roster and could play second base if needed.
Next: Third Base