Moment #5: 100th major league double
For a player entering just his fourth major league season, it seems that many of Whit Merrifield‘s accomplishments have a historical significance to them. On April 12th, a double hit in a game that stopped a Kansas City Royals 10-game skid was no different.
A Friday night crowd of only 11,950 showed up at Kauffman Stadium to watch a Royals team that was already trying to stay relevant in a baseball season that was only a couple of weeks old. The home team put the game away early with a six-run first inning that chased starter Carlos Carrasco out of the contest with only two-thirds of an inning pitched.
Merrifield recorded his milestone in the bottom of the fourth off of Tyler Olson. He took a pitch deep down the right-field line and ended up on second base for the 100th double. The ball ended being auctioned for $205 a month later.
It was a two-bagger that was not only the 100th of his career but another step to the second season in a row that would see him hit over 40 doubles. By the time the 2019 schedule closed out, Merrifield would end up with 138 in his career and in 24th place all-time for Royals players. Everyone above him has at least 100 more games played and he could easily crack the top 10 if he is still with the organization for a couple more years.
Moment #4: Major league debut
One moment that undoubtedly sticks out in a player’s career is when he makes his major league debut. Often times it is after several years spent in the minors working his way to get a chance to prove himself at the highest level.
Kelvin Gutierrez took the field of a big-league stadium for his first career appearance on April 27th at the friendly confines of Kauffman Stadium. It was against the Los Angeles Angels and the Kansas City Royals had lost six of their prior seven contests.
Gutierrez was placed at third base and batting seventh just behind Jorge Soler. As baseball is known to do, he was put on the spot in the first inning with a ground ball from Albert Pujols that Kelvin cooly turned into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
His first at-bat came in the second frame against Jaime Barria and drew a four-pitch walk. His next plate appearance was even better as he lined a single to left field and drove home Ryan O’Hearn and Soler for his first hit and two RBI’s.
The rest of the game was uneventful for Gutierrez but going one for three, driving home two runs and recording a putout with two assists and no errors is not a shabby way to start your career. He bounced around between Omaha and Kansas City and ultimately had his season cut short by an injury. In 20 major league games, he produced a .260/.304/.356 slash.