4) Whit Merrifield Is Taking Over At Second Base
Omar Infante last played on May 28 in the now famous 8-7 victory over the White Sox that saw the Kansas City Royals rally from a 7-1 ninth inning deficit to pull out the win. That’s three straight games that rookie Whit Merrifield has gotten the start at second base.
That’s what happens when a guy slashes .356/.356/.467. He’s going to get playing time.
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The fact is, Omar Infante hasn’t gotten the job done in the two and 1/3 seasons with the Kansas City Royals. While he’s been hitting a little better of late, Merrifield offers better range, better speed on the basepaths, and—so far—more pop at the plate.
Of course that his on base percentage (OBP) is the same as his batting average tells you that pitchers have been challenging the rookie with balls in the strike zone. If he continues to show that he belongs, pitchers will try to trick him more, and take more care to put the ball in a difficult location.
Merrifield isn’t a hacker. He’s twice finished with walk rates over 10% in his minor league career, and averaged a solid 8.6% walk rate in AAA Omaha earlier this season. Overall, Merrifield has forced pitchers to throw him strikes at the plate and showed tremendous versatility in the field, handling starting assignments at left field, second base, and third base with ease.
Instead of looking like an over-aged prospect at 27-years-old, he seems more like a polished player who is very ready for his big league opportunity.
Omar Infante has typically batted no. 9 when he’s in the 2016 lineup. Whit Merrifield has been hitting from the no. 2 spot, and looks like he belongs.
Next: Jorge Bonifacio