Coming into this spring Yermin Mercedes had 2,396 plate appearance in the minor leagues and one in the majors. Densely built at 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, the first baseman did enough to make the Chicago White Sox as the team headed north to embark on a season where they are expected to contend. And somewhere along the way, the 28-year-old became the best hitter on the face of the planet.
Mercedes set a MLB record by going 8-for-8 to begin the season. He collected another two hits in the Sox's home opener Thursday night, including a titanic 485-blast for his first career dinger at the top level. The majestic flight lasted longer than any in team history since the inception of StatCast.
Through six games, Mercedes leads the American League in hits, average, on-base percentage and OPS+. He's been the most fearsome hitter in a lineup full of them, even without Eloy Jimenez. In short, he's been a God-sent. Found money. Bitcoin just as it started to get really hot. Insert your own analogy here.
Fifteen-for-27. A 1.460 OPS. These numbers boggle the mind.
The secret to his success? Well, just like your parents always said. Being himself.
“I’m Yermín, so I don’t want to do another thing. Just be the same guy all the time. Don’t change anything. If you do something, keep doing that. That’s helped me a lot. ... I tried to do another thing and it’s not working much. But then I came back, and I do Yermín.”
There's no way Mercedes — or any player — could keep up such a pace for a full 162-game season. But seeing a stretch like this proves that it's in there. At any given moment, this new weapon can go on another stretch where he's impossible to get out and and can occasionally hit the ball halfway to the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind.
It really is an incredible story. The culmination of a decade grinding out a dream. Yermin has played in the Dominican Summer and Winter Leagues and in something called United League Baseball. He's played in the Pecos League, the South Atlantic League, the Carolina League, the Eastern League, and the Southern League. He's ridden a lot of buses and stayed in some less-than-desirable motels along the way.
It's incredible he got this chance and even more unbelievable that he's making it count.