Whit Merrifield: AL Stolen Base Leader
It’s hard to believe, but the American League leader in stolen bases didn’t start the year in the big leagues. He also only stole eight bases while playing half of last season at the major league level.
That man is Whit Merrifield, and he entered Saturday with 33 stolen bases. The second baseman has been caught just five times. In 2016, he was thrown out on three of his 11 stolen-base attempts. Suffice it to say, Merrifield’s base-stealing propensity has been a major surprise.
It’s hard to believe, but the American League leader in stolen bases didn’t start the year in the big leagues.
In fairness, Merrifield’s entire offensive game has been a shock. The 28-year-old has 30 doubles, 18 home runs and 73 RBI. He’s slashing .291/.330/.465 and has an OPS of .795.
Merrifield is second on the Kansas City Royals in WAR. His 4.1 WAR is just ahead of Hosmer (4.0) and not far behind Cain (4.9).
Some of Merrifield’s base-running decisions have been called into question recently. But when it comes to straight steals, he’s been one of the best in the league. He entered Saturday just ahead of a pair of Houston Astros—Jose Altuve (32) and Cameron Maybin (31)—for the AL lead.
Merrifield would almost certainly have a larger lead if he had been on the Opening Day roster. Whether he should have been with the Kansas City Royals from Day One is hard to dispute in hindsight, because his season has been a pleasant surprise.