(Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)
2020 season age: 25 – Throws: Right – Bats: Right- Contract: – Pre-Arb
2019 in review: After a hot spring training, Mercado headed to Triple-A for 30 games before the Indians summoned him for good. He went through some rookie ups and downs but ended up with a 95 wRC+ posting a .269/.318/.443 line with 15 homers and 15 steals. He finished strong with five homers in September and a 109 wRC+.
Beyond the stats: Mercado didn’t show good batted ball data despite his success, finishing in the 16th percentile in exit velocity and in the 24th percentile in hard hit rate. He was in the 87th percentile in outs above average, 69th percentile in outfielder job, and 97th in sprint speed. He did manage to keep the ball off the ground too often with a 39.9 GB% and a 38.5 FB%, so he wasn’t hitting the ball at a lower exit velocity on the ground.
Offensive impact: Since Mercado isn’t an exit velocity superstar, he could stand to be a little more patient. He didn’t run particularly strong walk rates in the minors and had a 31.1% chase rate in the majors with an 11.3% swinging strike rate. He still managed a 95 wRC+ on just a .300 BABIP with a particularly higher chase rate, low exit velocity and lower walk rate. Adopting a more selective approach would significantly increase Mercado’s offensive floor and help him get on base and up those 15 steals, which he had a strong year on.
Defensive impact: Mercado had a +6 outs above average in centerfield, being above average in each direction except for his -1 mark coming in. StatCast had him a little stronger with +10 DRS in centerfield and a 5.8 UZR/150 innings. He made a number of spectacular catches and used his speed to make up for balls he misjudged. He struggled in left field in limited duty, though it was extremely limited time there despite what some former SportsCenter anchor declares. Mercado is an above average defender in the outfield.
2020 role: With the presence of Delino DeShields Jr., the Indians said Mercado might not be the everyday centerfielder, even though it’s his best position. But either way Mercado expects to be an everyday outfielder in some spot and either hitting second again or near the bottom of the order.
Fantasy impact: With 15 steals and 15 homers in in 115 games Mercado provides a nice combo skill set of power and speed over a good sample. He’s not going to be a fantasy stud in any one category but he provides an important combination of stats you can count on without paying too high of a price because he’s not a big name. He won’t win you any fantasy leagues, but any time you can get 15 steals and double digit homers with a batting average that doesn’t sink your batting average there is plenty of value. He might be a little less valuable in on-base percentage leagues if he doesn’t improve his approach and walk more, but overall he’s worthy of a mid-to-late pick or single digit spend to fill out your roster with his solid floor.