The Chicago White Sox made a flurry of roster moves on Friday ahead of their weekend series.
One of them was kind of surprising: They optioned designated hitter Yermin Mercedes to Triple-A Charlotte.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 2, 2021
Mercedes raked in spring training and, with hard work and skill, ran away with the designated hitter spot in April.
Over the season as a whole, Mercedes has been a slightly above-average hitter, with a .271/.328/.404 line and seven home runs in 262 plate appearances.
He has a 103 wRC+, or weighted Runs Created Plus, which helps determine whether a hitter has performed above or below the average, established at 100.
In April and part of May, Mercedes performed much better than that.
While Mercedes was implicated in a public spat with his own manager after hitting a home run on a 3-0 count in a 15-4 game, his demotion doesn’t appear to be related to that incident.
Are the White Sox right to send him to Triple-A?
Or should they give him a longer leash to see if he can get going again with the big club?
The decision to send Mercedes to the minors is justified, and doesn’t mean he won’t be back once he gets going, if that’s the case.
A Tale Of Two Seasons
Mercedes set the world on fire with his early-season performance.
Since the start of the season until May 27, he slashed .340/.386/.525 with all seven home runs and a 150 wRC+.
Their lineup needed some thump, and Mercedes provided it for almost two months.
Then the magic flamed out.
Since May 29, Mercedes slumped all the way to a .128/.209/.154 line with no homers in 86 plate appearances.
That’s a month-long slump, and those are hard to fathom if you are a manager writing the lineup every day.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 5, 2021
His Shortcomings As An Overall Baseball Player Had To Do With His Demotion
Mercedes was just not hitting, and something needed to be done.
By now, we know who he is as a ballplayer: he doesn’t run, he doesn’t field, and doesn’t take a whole lot of walks.
If he is not hitting, it’s hard to justify his presence in the lineup and he takes a valuable roster spot that the team can use to bring a more versatile asset.
There is nothing wrong with sending Mercedes down to Triple-A to see if he can regain his rhythm.
Mercedes has a long story of hitting in the minor leagues, and can certainly square up a pitch.
There are reasons to think he will get going eventually and we will see him back in the majors relatively soon.
This is likely not the end of Mercedes as a good MLB batter, he just seems to have some things to work on in the batter’s box and he will now be afforded some time to do it in a not-so-stressful environment.
For now, the White Sox are right to send him to the minors, but it shouldn’t be seen as a career-altering move for him: he will be back eventually.