This article series examines how various Pittsburgh Pirates players are trending and focuses on one specific player that is trending up and one that is trending down. Today, our attention is on Adam Frazier and Jordy Mercer.
One player that has been trending up in a big way is Adam Frazier. Frazier has been the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most consistent bat since returning from the DL on May 12. In those 9 games, he has hit for a .438 average with two doubles and only 3 strikeouts. And 6 out of those 9 games were multi-hit games for Frazier. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, he has only failed to reach base in two games in which he started.
Even more impressive is that Frazier, as a left-handed batter, is getting his hits off both lefties and righties. In fact, he has posted an average of .450 against LHP in his early career. He is also using the entire field, which is a skill that sometimes takes a player years to develop. Frazier’s spray chart is below.
Adam Frazier Sprat Chart – 2016-2017 – Courtesy of FanGraphs
You start to wonder if Frazier can keep this up. After all, his batting average on balls in play (BAbip) is .400 for this season, well over the MLB average of around .300. Normally, you might expect some regression. However, Frazier had a BAbip of .353 over 160 at-bats last season, which indicates that he is the kind of player that can maintain a high BAbip.
It is unreasonable to expect all Frazier’s ground balls to keep sneaking through the infield, but it is not unreasonable to expect Frazier to keep batting north of .350 and maintaining an OBP over .400.
Jordy Mercer Trending Down
On the other side of the trend we find Jordy Mercer. Mercer has been struggling to start the 2017 season, slashing for .203/.317/.268. As slow as his April has been, his recent performance at the plate in May has been worse. He has 10 hits in the month of May in 56 at-bats. Only 2 of those hits went for extra bases. He has contributed by getting on base by walking 13 times in the month, however, this stat is misleading. He often hits in the 8th spot in the lineup and 4 of those walks were of the intentional kind in order to get to the pitcher.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Fans should stay patient because Jordy tends to suffer in May and come on strong in June.[/perfectpullquote]
Mercer is a habitual slow-starter. He is a lifetime .231 hitter in March/April and .219 hitter in May, so getting off to a sluggish start is not something new for Mercer. Unfortunately, his hitting pattern over the years says that it will get worse before it gets better.
Fans should stay patient because Jordy tends to suffer in May and come on strong in June – the shortstop usually takes until then to heat up at the plate. After that warmup, he tends to go on a mini tear in July where his career line improves to .296/.354/.414.
Up and Down
Adam Frazier is knocking the cover off the ball and trending in the right direction. Jordy Mercer is heading the other way, but his history shows that trend can reverse itself as the Spring turns into Summer.
Image Credit – Daniel Decker Photography