Biggest Surprise: Whit Merrifield
It’s pretty easy to be a major surprise when you start the season in the minor leagues, and then wind up leading the league in a counting stat. Whit Merrifield pulled that off in 2017. Despite not being called up until mid-April, the second baseman ended up leading the American League in stolen bases with 34.
While he clearly didn’t spend much time at Triple-A Omaha, Merrifield still shocked everybody in the organization by turning into one of the most well-rounded players in baseball. He hit for average, power, played good defense, had a strong enough arm for second base and utilized his speed.
While he clearly didn’t spend much time at Triple-A Omaha, Merrifield still shocked everybody in the organization by turning into one of the most well-rounded players in baseball.
Merrifield featured in 145 out of the possible 150 games in which he could have played. During those 145 games, he hit .288/.324/.460. After hitting just two home runs in 81 games in 2016, Merrifield hit 19 homers and added 78 RBI and 80 runs.
While some of his struggling teammates finally started hitting well down the stretch, Merrifield went in the other direction. He had just a .250 average in August. Even though his average improved to .306 during September, his base-running took a step back. Merrifield was caught stealing on six of his 14 attempts in the month after only being nabbed twice in 28 attempts through the end of August.
Regardless, Merrifield had little competition in taking home this honor, despite the number of surprises the Kansas City Royals had in 2017.
Runner-up: Jake Junis