4) Whit Merrifield Whiff Problem Has Disappeared
A few days ago, I expressed concern that 8 strikeouts in 14 at bats might be a sign that pitchers had identified a hole in Whit Merrifield’s swing. That problem has disappeared in the last three games.
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Scheduled for a day off on Wednesday, Merrifield instead entered the lineup as the game extended into extra innings. He ended up with with 2 hits in 3 at bats with no strikeouts. In fact, Merrifield is 4 for 11 over his last three games, with 1 strikeout.
Either Merrifield simply ran into a couple of pitchers whose ball he just doesn’t see well, or he’s already adjusted to the pitch pattern that had been giving him trouble. That the problem hasn’t persisted is a good sign for Merrifield’s continued effectiveness.
Whit Merrifield’s development into what looks like a good everyday player has been the best surprise of the 2016 season. Most pundits doubted the KC Royals would get significant help from prospects in the 2016 season, which has helped make up for the loss of third baseman Mike Moustakas and second baseman Omar Infante‘s ineffectiveness.
Merrifield’s hit tool will determine his major league future. His base-running and his ability to play plus defense at seven positions will make him useful even if his bat is below par. An average bat will make Merrifield a very good player. A plus bat will make Merrifield a Kansas City Royals version of Ben Zobrist, but likely with a better batting average and less power.
Next: Alex Gordon