After seeing his 19-game hitting streak come to an end, is Whit Merrifield still viewed by the KC Royals as a utility player?
The streak is over. Whit Merrifield’s consecutive game hit total ended at 19 games. It didn’t break any MLB records, but it is the longest so far in 2017. The question raised now is, “Is Whit still viewed as a utility player?”
After an overall solid 2016 Merrifield went into Spring Training in competition for the starting 2B job. Ultimately the position went to top prospect Raul Mondesi Jr. to start the season. The somewhat surprising thing was that Merrifield didn’t crack the 25-man roster.
Players with and without options (Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert) may have been the main factor in that decision. Many thought he would serve as the “poor man’s Ben Zobrist” as he had proved himself capable of playing multiple positions at an average to above-average level. Regardless Whit found himself headed to AAA Omaha to start 2017.
In Omaha Whit slashed .412/.432/.794 and launched 3 home runs in 9 games.
He was recalled to Kansas City in mid-April.
In 39 games since then he has put up a .307/.360/.496 along with 6 more homeruns. He has also accumulated 2.1 WAR to this point. Included in that time was the aforementioned hit streak. A bit of a surprise factor has been the power. Much has been written about that recently including this egg-cellent read by Mike Courson.
Rather than try and rework information that has been well covered to this point I would like to get the thoughts of #RoyalsNation. With the way that Whit is playing to me he appears as the clear option every day at 2B. Perhaps Ned Yost is feeling the same as he moved Merrifield into the leadoff spot in the batting order.
What do you say Royals fans? Is Whit Merrifield still the team’s jack of all trades? Or is he the player you expect penciled in at second the rest of the season? Will an improved performance by Raul Mondesi challenge Whit for playing time? Let me know what you think.