The simple pleasure of Yermín Mercedes’ multiple swings

Depending on when you start counting, Yermín Mercedes had waited either 10 months or 10 years for a moment like Friday night.

Making second MLB appearance and his first career start, Mercedes made up for lost time. He went 5-for-5 with a double and four RBIs in the White Sox’s 12-6 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. He became the second-ever player to collect five hits in his first start, and the first to only need five plate appearances to do so.

In a postgame interview, Mercedes sounded like a guy who isn’t taking any opportunity for granted.

“I just want to cry every time when I see I’m in the majors right now,” Mercedes said after the game. “I just want to cry because it’s (been) a long time. It’s a long time. I passed (through) everything. I’ve got a big history. It’s about time, but it’s hard for me because just looking around I’m like, ‘It’s real. I’m here.’

“Because I know when it was a couple years ago, (I said), ‘What am I going to do? What’s going to happen with me?’ I just said, ‘God, when am I going to be in the majors? What do I need to do?’ Because all the time, all my years, I put up my numbers, do the best of myself.

“But the time is now, the opportunity is now. Just keep working hard, keep the head up, trust in God.”

He was right to question higher powers, because dead-enders like Welington Castillo and Edwin Encarnación hogged plate appearances that probably would’ve been better used on an up-and-comer like Mercedes over the previous seasons. Mercedes did all he could in the White Sox’s high minors, hitting .317/.388/.581. He impressed not only with the 42 extra-base hits, but with the very respectable strikeout total. He fanned just 67 times over 95 games.

Watching him go about his business on Friday, you can see how he balanced contact and power. Three of his five hits came with two strikes.

  1. Single on a 1-2 changeup, five pitches in.
  2. Single on a 1-0 sinker.
  3. Single on an 0-1 cutter.
  4. Single on an 0-2 cutter.
  5. Double on a 1-2 fastball, after falling behind 0-2.

While Nick Madrigal gets raves for his ability to cover the plate with two strikes, Mercedes showed a similar acumen for the situation.

Here’s his first plate appearance with Andrew Heaney. Over the course of the five pitches, you can see Mercedes shorten his stroke from a “one swing, one run” mindset to “keep the line moving. ”

To make it easier, here’s a GIF of how Mercedes lets it rip with the bases empty and a strike to spare, even if it’s a swing and a miss on an Andrew Heaney fastball.

But down to his last strike, Mercedes ditches the leg kick and the diminishes the severity of his coil. It robs him some power, but it allows him to defend two pretty good pitches by Heaney. He fights off a high fastball on 1-2…

… before reaching out and hooking a decent Heaney changeup into shallow left-center for his first MLB hit.

The approach costs him a little bit of power, but he still generated enough to be useful. All five of his hits registered between 90.8 mph and 97.6 mph. One was a grounder that found a hole, but the others were line drives between 11, 12, 13 and 25 degrees.

And on the last hit, Mercedes shows that his approach has further flexibility. Facing crafty lefty Alex Claudio \, Mercedes uses the big leg kick as he tracks a pitch off the plate. Marvin Hudson still called it a strike, so Mercedes was behind in the count.

In this sequence, Mercedes had runners on first and second with two outs. So he shortened his stroke one pitch earlier than the other at-bats and made history with his fifth hit.

This is the kind of feel for hitting that made Mercedes a favorite of some prospect writers. He didn’t crack most of the top-10 lists due to all the strikes against him — the combination of age, no defensive position, no speed and an aggressive approach lowers his ceiling — but this craftsmanship is how he’s overcome the odds so far.

The White Sox haven’t yet released tonight’s lineup, but Tony La Russa has already penciled in Mercedes for his first-ever second game of the season.

“It’s a shame he’s not playing tomorrow,” La Russa deadpanned after the game. “I told Tim (Anderson), ‘You tell him he’s not playing tomorrow.’ He said, ‘No, you better play him.’ I said, ‘Yes, I will.'”

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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The quote from Mercedes really makes you feel good for the guy. I really want to see him given an extended run at DH and a few games at C to see what he can do.

Last edited 1 year ago by MrStealYoBase
John SF

It’s exciting that between Vaughn, Collins, Mercedes, and Grandal, I’m happy to see the DH each game instead of dreading it.

If TLR follows through with his threat to put give Leury or Lamb DH days though, I’ll be upset.

If Lamb is in the lineup, Moncada better be resting or DHing himself.


Pretty sure on the old site I had dibs on the bat-first “catcher” but unfortunately I picked the left-handed one.

The lesson, as always, is I’m an idiot.


I picked Collins too and a Dodgers fan in my league picked him up and is holding him hostage till I give up Gavin Lux.


From La Russa, it sounded to me that this approach was something very new for Mercedes. The hard contact line drives are nice to see as a start. Will be really intersesting to see how this plays out and what his power vs contact numbers look like

Last edited 1 year ago by metasox

I just had to share this. My daughter has Down Syndrome. Today she’s going on about the various things she and her best friend can do after they’re both fully vaccinated. (That will be 1 week for her and 3 weeks for her friend.) “It will be like Mercedes’ first grand slam!”

That, folks, is why you should get your shots as soon as possible.


I regret that I can only “like” this comment once.

As Cirensica

I “liked” it for you again, and for me.


A bit of satisfaction for all those generations of fans futilely yelling, “Two strikes for crissakes, choke up!”


I love that LaRussa deadpan. This is just the feel-good story the team needs to pull them together and keep them positive and having fun in a high-expectations season.


Thanks for the insight and film, Jim. Love to seeit. Yermin may be just what we needed. A professional hitter who just knows how to hit at DH.