For the first six weeks of the season, he looked like the runaway favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award.
The 28-year-old was batting .364 with a .984 OPS, six home runs and seven doubles over the first 36 games of his season.
The farthest home run this year at 485ft still belongs to Yermin Mercedes. pic.twitter.com/Ii3iVaGNfB
— Samuel タカヒロ Dunn (@hirohirobonito) July 22, 2021
However, things changed in a hurry in the middle of May.
On May 17, Mercedes homered on a 3-0 pitch off of a position player in the ninth inning.
The result of the game was not in question, but Mercedes swung away regardless.
To most fans, that’s no big deal at all.
To White Sox manager Tony La Russa, it was.
La Russa publically criticized Mercedes for swinging away in that situation, and the incident became a big deal.
Coincidence or not, Mercedes’ production dropped off immediately after the spat with La Russa.
He proceeded to bat .162 with a .443 OPS over the next 32 games, and his struggles got so bad that the team optioned him to the Triple-A squad.
— Flippin' Bats Podcast (@FlippinBatsPod) June 27, 2021
Then, in the most recent chapter of his wild year, Mercedes shared a post to Instagram earlier this week where he announced his retirement.
He quickly changed his mind the next day.
Mercedes has clearly been through a lot this season, and it seems to be taking a toll on him.
The White Sox should do their best as an organization to help him get back to where he needs to be.
The goal for both sides should be a long-term future together.
Mercedes Has Been Mashing At The Triple-A Level
There’s no reason to believe that Mercedes can’t be a productive big-league hitter again.
Since being optioned to Triple-A, he has managed a slash line of .298/.365/.632 with four homers, five doubles, and a triple in 15 games.
He is performing like the player we saw over the first six weeks of the MLB season.
The top priority for Chicago should be to help Mercedes get to a place mentally where he feels good enough to give it another go at the MLB level, because it appears that he is ready from a production standpoint.
Mercedes could be a key contributor for the White Sox down the stretch and into the playoffs this season.
He Could Be A Star Player For Years To Come
Mercedes is under contract through the 2027 season.
The White Sox are going to have a chance to build around this guy throughout all of his prime years.
Chicago’s window to win is just now opening, and Mercedes has the potential to be a part of the core for a very long time.
There’s no need to mess with that.
Just a couple of months ago, no one could have foreseen a situation like this unfolding.
But now that Mercedes and the White Sox are here, they need to make the most of it.
There is no need to give up on the 28-year-old or trade or him away.
If Chicago is patient, the organization will be very grateful down the road.NEXT: Grading The Chicago White Sox Extension For Lance Lynn