As Detroit Tigers head to the south side of Chicago for a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, rookies Yermín Mercedes and Akil Baddoo have been among the most popular topics of discussion among the fans on social media.
Their April legends continue to grow and both stand out not only for the on-field results (Mercedes leads the league in hitting with a .429 batting average) but both have uniform numbers that are not the conventional norm. Mercedes, a minor league Rule 5 pick in 2017, his number “73” has drawn inspiration enough to have Goose Island Brewery in Chicago make a beer called “the Rule 5 draft”, a hazy IPA with a 7.3% APV and he also has a burger named after him called the “Yerminator” as Janice Scurio of South Sox, SI Now and NBC Sports broke down what goes into making one of his burgers.
Detroit Tigers fans are growing accustomed to seeing Baddoo number 60 make highlights and working his way through the record book as he did on Monday. (He is currently tied for the AL lead in triples with three)
While you can’t overlook the 43.9% K rate by Baddoo, one important element to consider he is still adjusting from Low-A ball and he has provided a lot of the offense highlights for the Tigers, who have not gotten much offense anywhere else.
Yermín Mercedes has done it all so far for the Chicago White Sox.
For any Detroit Tigers fans who pay attention to Dominican Winter League ball this past winter, Mercedes played with the Tigres del Licey with former Tigers like Wynton Benard, Sergio Alcantara, and Dawel Lugo.
His long journey to the majors to become a rookie sensation started in 2011 when he was with the Washington Nationals. While he is listed as a catcher, he has been primarily a DH. When he was down in Chicago’s farm system, Mercedes was making his mark, hitting .327/.389/.497 in Double-A Birmingham before getting the call up to Charlotte in 2019, where he kept hitting over .300 and saw his home run total go from six to 17. He was showing power everywhere he went.
On Opening Day 2021 against the Angels in only his second game of his major league career, Mercedes went 5-for-5. The stat that really stands out is he is the first player to begin a season with 8 straight hits since 1900.
Mercedes hits everything. While he is mashing fastballs (19-for-32), he is hitting offspeed pitches to the tune of a .462 batting average the 11.3% of the time he has seen them. He even pitched an inning in a loss to Boston.
From the perspective of a South Sider
I asked Janice a few questions about Mercedes’s offense profile and how he continues to endure to the fanbase.
1. His power numbers in Triple-A Charlotte in 2019 seem to more than just the juiced balls that were used as we saw him get off to a good start in spring training 2020. Does he project more of a power hitter or a contact hitter in your opinion? He can do both it seems.
Janice: He’s definitely both a power and contact hitter! A handful of his singles have been infield singles which is interesting; he’s definitely not speedy by any means (he has one CS this year so far lol) but still manages to out-let throws, not sure if that’s just consecutive bad throws, but it’s happened more than once this season. His ability to make contact – and change his approach depending on the count is pretty fantastic!
2. How he has handled the spotlight so far. It seems that he has been having a lot of fun but as you living in the city, it seems like the entire area, even Cubs fans are embracing him
Janice: He’s absolutely loving the spotlight. Before this season, I read a prospect scouting report that mentioned that he’s incredibly fun. (The elusive sixth tool!) some White Sox fans fell in love with him when he posted a video of himself chugging a 40 on his Instagram. But as for the Yerminator nickname, he’s embraced it and said he’s totally okay with all of the fame. (I have yet to try the Yerminator burger.) He always says that he loves his fans in interviews! He’s just a lovable dude, and yeah, both sides of town seem to be enamored.
Will Yermín join Jose Abreu and be the next batter who does well against Tigers pitching? We will find this week. Both are feel-good stories for both ballclubs that we hope to get to see continue long past 2021.