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Monday, June 20, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: WHIT MERRIOFIELD 2B/OF KANSAS CITY ROYALS

With the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals enduring what has been nothing short of an injury epidemic this season, some backup players and minor leaguers have gotten a prime opportunity to play for the team in 2016.  One player who has ended up getting some time for the Royals this season has been 27-year-old 2B/OF Whit Merrifield who has used his supreme speed to carve out a daily role on the team over the last few weeks.  The former ninth round pick in 2010 certainly took his time getting to the majors but a .333 average with 2 home runs and 4 steals in 123 at-bats has caught more than a few fantasy baseball players' attention.  Now the fact it took Merrifield so long to make it to the majors calls into question how good a player he really is but the fact of the matter is that there are a decent array to tools there that led him to hit 5 home runs and steal 16 bases at Triple-A prior to his promotion.  In addition, Merrifield solidified his standing as one of the best base stealers in the minors, having swiped as many as 32 bags in 2015.  Clearly speed is the calling card here for Merrifield and is the main reason anyone would have him on their fantasy baseball rosters but again he has been hot since first arriving on the scene.  Whether Merrified can keep up both the power and average is up for debate though and I for one have my doubts.  For as many bags as Merrifield stole a year ago, he batted a shaky .265 despite striking out in just 11.1 percent of his at-bats.  You would think the fact Merrifield doesn't strike out would lead to a .300 average but the flip side is that he doesn't walk at all.  That is a major problem for a guy whose game is built on speed and it is a clear loss of opportunity there.  Also Merrifield has used a incredibly lucky .400 BABIP to build his Royals average at .333 and so when his luck changes, he will see a sizable drop in that category.  Finally, Merrifield's career-best in home runs is 5 at Double-A or higher so he is not going to help much there either.  When you put it all together. Merrifield is a guy who you should ride out until opposing pitchers begin to get a book on him which will happen eventually.  The fact Merrifield was a complete unknown coming into 2016 has helped him get his bat going quickly upon his promotion but it does not auger well for his future as a daily fantasy baseball asset. 


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