Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals Projections series for 2022. Between now and Opening Day, our writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is Whit Merrifield.
Whit Merrifield has been the Royals’ iron man—he’s played in 469 straight games, a streak dating back to midseason 2018. He’s been a dynamic force at the plate and in the field ever since he was called up to the majors, and last season was no different from the rest.
In 2021, Merrifield slashed .277/.317/.395 with a .711 OPS and 10 home runs and 74 RBIs. He posted his second 40-40 season in doubles and stolen bases—his 42 doubles tied for the major league lead and his 40 steals topped the American League.
He made his second AL All-Star team last year and while he didn’t win a Gold Glove, Merrifield did capture a Fielding Bible Award, with his major league best 283 putouts and 103 double plays contributing to that accolade.
After coming off another good season in 2021, how will Merrifield fare for the Royals in 2022?
Baseball Reference & FanGraphs projections for the Royals’ Whit Merrifield.
Baseball Reference projects Merrifield will slash .275/.322/.413, and hit 13 home runs with 65 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.
FanGraphs (Depth Chart version) expects Merrifield to hit .280/.327/.410 with 11 homers, 59 RBIs and 28 stolen bases.
What kind of season will Whit Merrifield actually have for the KC Royals?
Both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs predict 2022 will be typical year for Merrifield, which seems likely.
Merrifield finishing 2021 with a .277 average, the lowest of his career, was due in part to poor months in May and July—he hit .229 in both. Those months were offset, however, with an excellent .351 June and .303 August.
While there is concern about decline because Merrifield now 33, he’s proven time and again that he’s quite reliable at the top of the order. And as for being in the spotlight of countless trade rumors over the years, there is no reason to assume Merrifield will be gone in 2022.
If the Royals wanted to trade Merrifield, they presumably would have done it a couple of years ago. The fact of the matter is that Merrifield is a solid player and key piece for the club’s success, getting the job done for the club whether it be at second base or at other positions
The only questionable part of Merrifield’s Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections are steals. Merrifield is a three-time American League stolen base leader (2017, 2018, and 2021), led the majors in 2021, and finished with 30 or more steals in three of his six seasons. It isn’t out of the question to believe he can crack that 30-steal threshold again.
Overall, fans can expect Merrifield to hit around .280, stay in double-digits for home runs, and swipe around 30 bases in 2022.
Whit Merrifield will remain a consistent bat at the top of the lineup for the Royals in 2022.