KC Royals utility player Whit Merrifield is eating seven meals a day in his attempt to bulk up this winter. He hopes the extra muscle mass will help him win a starting job at second base.
Last winter, Kansas City Royals player Whit Merrifield used a workout and diet regimen that included seven meals a day. Combined with a tough workout schedule, Merrifield’s diet plan helped him gain twenty pounds.
Going from 175 to 195 pounds helped Merrifield add more extra base pop to his bat. Between AAA and MLB, Merrifield smacked 54 extra base hits—which is more than any other season in his seven-year professional career. However, Merrifield only hit two home runs in MLB in 332 plate appearances.
Overall, Merrifield slashed an acceptable .283/.323/.392 with 22 doubles, three triples, and two home runs for the KC Royals in 2016. Merrifield put up those numbers while appearing at six different positions (including DH) last season. If Merrifield can hit the ball with even greater authority, he could become quite a valuable bench player.
However, what Merrifield really wants is to win the everyday second base job. Right now, he figures to fight a Spring Training battle with Cheslor Cuthbert, Christian Colon, and Raul Mondesi for the position.
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Will Adding Muscle Help Merrifield Win The KC Royals Second Base Job?
The key is that Merrifield needs to add muscle without compromising his speed and quickness. He stole eight bases in 11 attempts last season, as well as played strong defense at five different positions in the field. Too much bulk could limit his versatility, base-running ability, and his defensive prowess.
Merrifield told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
"“The hardest part of this is really prepping all the food,” Merrifield said. “It just takes so much time. But in the end, I think it will be worth it.”"
Merrifield burst onto the scene in Kansas City last May. He hit .356/.356/.467 in his first 11 games and took over the leadoff spot. Merrifield’s early success helped the Kansas City Royals front office decide to release failed free agent Omar Infante on June 15.
However, Merrifield couldn’t maintain his early success. He settled to a .286/.316/.411 triple slash in June and suffered through a horrendous start of July at .170/.241/.245. At that point, the KC Royals optioned him back to AAA Omaha in favor of top prospect Raul Mondesi.
Merrifield returned to Kansas City when rosters expanded in September. He adjusted to the weaknesses that major-league pitchers discovered in his swing, and recovered to slash a solid .307/.360/.416 in the final month of the 2016 season.
If he can maintain his September production over a full season, Merrifield just might win that starting job he craves.