Whit Merrifield led the American League in stolen bases last season despite spending the first couple weeks in the minors, and he showed a surprising power stroke after hitting a mere two homers in 332 plate appearances in 2016. A dramatic leap in flyball rate -- from 29.8 percent to 40.5 percent -- and correction in his HR/FB (and likely a new baseball) fueled the power breakout, although the hard-hit data suggests Merrifield overachieved. Moreover, Merrifield hit 13 of his 19 homers at home, and Kauffman Stadium was the fourth-worst park for homers last season; simply put, he will have a hard time repeating that home-run output in 2018. He doesn't walk much at all, but Merrifield puts the ball in play consistently (14.0 percent strikeout rate), and that skill along with his speed should help Merrifield stick atop the Royals' batting order. Unfortunately, there will likely be a significantly worse team around him with so many of Kansas City's top players expected to leave via free agency this winter.
Merrifield is 14-for-28 with two home runs and six RBI through 10 spring training games. Merrifield had a solid 2017 season, slashing .288/.324/.460 along with recording 19 home runs and 78 RBI. He's been hot at the dish through the first weeks of spring training and will look to carry that momentum into the regular season. The future looks promising for the 29-year-old second baseman, who looks to have plenty of fantasy value this year.
Merrifield went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in Friday's 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks. The long ball was Merrifield's 19th of the season, putting him just one shy of becoming the fourth second baseman in American League history to compile 20 home runs, 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases in a season. Even if Merrifield, who is also hitting .289 on the season, falls short of that achievement, he's still been a far greater fantasy contributor than his owners could have imagined coming out of spring training. Raul Mondesi scuffled early on as the team's everyday second baseman, allowing Merrifield to claim the starting gig. He never look back on his way to becoming one of the top fantasy options at the position.
Merrifield went 1-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Detroit. Merrifield came around to score after leading off the fourth inning with a double and drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly in the fifth. The leadoff man was also caught stealing after reaching on a fielder's choice in the seventh, falling to 33-for-39 in steal attempts for the season. He's now slashing .286/.324/.459.
Despite going 0-for-2 Wednesday against the White Sox, Merrifield managed two walks and inched closer to the AL stolen base lead with his 29th swipe of the season. Merrifield sits just two stolen bases shy of Astros' second baseman Jose Altuve, and three swipes shy of matching his own minor-league career high. The second baseman has put together an impressive campaign after not making the Opening Day roster, and Merrifield (17 homers) is within reach of a 20-30 campaign in just his second MLB season.
Merrifield went 3-for-6 with a trio of doubles, three RBI and a pair of runs in Wednesday's 13-2 drubbing of the Tigers. Merrifield came in on a little five-game skid without an extra-base hit, but he made up for that in impressive fashion. The sophomore second baseman continues to post a well-rounded line for his fantasy owners, and he's certainly part of the reason why the Royals are not yet out of the AL wild-card race.