Whit Merrifield is one of the MLB’s best hitters.
When you think of the baseball’s best hitters, players like Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Mookie Betts probably come to mind. However, you may be missing the player who has led all of MLB in hits in each of the previous two seasons.
That player is Whit Merrifield, the second baseman for the Kansas City Royals. Merrifield has proven to be one of the MLB’s top hitters, yet many casual MLB fans may not even know his name.
Merrifield is a late bloomer. He wasn’t called up to the majors until he was 27 years old in 2016. He didn’t truly break out until he was 29, which has made it tougher for him to attract the attention he deserves.
Why is Merrifield so underrated?
Much of this is largely due to the team he plays for. The Royals have been less than impressive for the entirety of Merrifield’s career. The last two seasons have been especially lousy for Kansas City, finishing with under 60 wins in both.
Merrifield doesn’t play a very flashy game. He uses his incredible speed to his advantage, which allows him to rack up infield hits. He led MLB in steals in 2018 with 45 and has already tallied a total of 107 in his career. He also led MLB in triples last season with 10.
The recognition Merrifield deserves is nowhere to be found, even from the MLB itself. He has only made one All-Star team and received zero MVP votes in 2019, despite leading the entire league with 206 hits. It’s incredible that such an exceptional player can be so overlooked by everyone in and around the game. What else does Merrifield need to do in order to gain respect?
The answer: leave Kansas City. However, it doesn’t look like that’s happening any time soon. Merrifield signed a four-year, $16.3 million contract with the Royals in 2019, which is an absolute bargain for one of the best hitters in the majors. He likely won’t hit the market until 2024, at which point he’ll be 35 years old.
Nevertheless, Whit Merrifield is one of the MLB’s best players. He deserves far more credit than he receives. So maybe turn on a Royals game this summer — you’ll get to watch one of the MLB’s best hitters in action.