Will **Jordy Mercer**‘s bat provide more value than **Clint Barmes**‘ glove in 2014? That is the question to which I will be attempting to provide a reasonably estimated answer over the next two days. I will start with a projection for **Jordy Mercer**.

At age 26, Mercer’s most comparable hitters are **A.J. Pollock** of the Diamondbacks, **Devin Mesoraco** of the Reds, **Nate Schierholtz** of the Cubs, and **Pete Whisenant**, who played for the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, and Redlegs from 1952 through 1961. Of those four, only Schierholtz is relevant to Mercer’s age-27, 2014 season. Pollack and Mesoraco have not yet reached the age of 27. And Whisenant only had 98 plate appearances at 27, in which he posted a .706 OPS – in the ancient baseball history of 1957.

Here are Shierholtz’s and Mercer’s numbers at ages 25-26:

Shierholtz / Mercer

PA: 560 / 433

BB%: 6.4% / 6.0%

K%: 17.1% / 17.6%

HR: 8 / 9

Average: .256 / .273

On-Base Percentage: .306 / .325

Slugging Percentage: .385 / .425

OPS: .691 / .750

BABIP: .296 / .317

*(You may be asking how a player with a .691 OPS can be one of the most comparable hitters to a player with a .750 OPS. And it’s a good, reasonable question that I should be required to answer. Here goes:
*

*When determining player comparables, I only look at BB%, K%, HR%, Plate Appeaarances and Age because I believe those are the statistics which are most predictive of future performance. I do not consider BABIP or the player’s batting line.)*

Mercer will be 27 in 2014, so, I find it interesting to take a look at Schierholtz’s age-27 numbers, but it is such a small amount of information that I am not using it in my Mercer Projection.

In 2011, at age-27, **Nate Schierholtz** hit .278/.326/.430 — .756 OPS, with 9 home runs in 362 plate appearances. His walk rate was 5.8% and he struck out in 16.9% of his plate appearances. His BABIP was .315. Again, that is a small amount of information upon which to base a projection. But . . . getting that from Jordy Mercer in 2014 would be a big advantage for the Pirates – if his defense holds up.

Mercer hit .285/.336./435 — .771 OPS in 2013. That’s pretty darn good for a major league shortstop. But the Pirates don’t need him to do quite *that* well again and I am not projecting that he will. Here is my calculation of what Mercer should reasonably be expected to do in 2014:

PA: 400

BB%: 6.0%

K%: 17.5%

HR: 8

Average: .265

On-Base Percentage: .322

Slugging Percentage: .400

OPS: .722

BABIP: .307 – *that’s a regression drop from his far-above average 2013 BABIP of .330. He might end up being a high BABIP hitter, but it’s too early in his career to project that.*

Based on average base-running, slightly below average defense *(which may be generous)*, and the hitting numbers posted above, I project that Mercer will be 1.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2014.

I don’t how those projected numbers look to others. But I see it as good production for a starting major league shortstop. The MLB average batting line for the position last season was .254/.308/.372 — .680 OPS. So, I’m projecting Mercer to have an OPS that is 42 points above average for his position.

Steamer projects Mercer for a .705 OPS. Oliver has him at .723.

But the question remains; does Mercer’s projection for 2014 predict more value at SS than **Clint Barmes** will provide? . . . Stayed tuned . . . Barmes’ projection will be posted tomorrow . . . because I haven’t done it yet, this post is already at 561 words. . . and, well, I want you to come back again.

—————————–

Note: I just can’t work up any interest at all in the A-Rod absurdity. I’d just like him to go away.

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