It certainly took awhile for Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield to find his MLB footing but judging by his excellent 2017 numbers, the wait was worth it. Having hinted at what was to come by batting .283 with 2 homers and 8 steals in a half-season debut the year prior, Merrifield quietly put forth a spectacular breakout in 2017 almost across the board. What quickly jumps out are the 19 home runs and 34 steals Merrifield tallied since that type of power/speed game is what often makes up the early rounds of yearly drafts. Merrifield also batted .288 with 80 runs and 78 RBI to stamp himself as a five-tool player that no one was really talking about. Now the question is whether Merrifield can duplicate those digits for 2018 and as is always recommended in cases such as this, dial back projected totals a bit in order to protect yourself. It is entirely possible opposing pitchers figured out some holes in Merrifield's swing to exploit during the upcoming season but it also is within the realm of possibility he serves as a power/speed asset for an affordable draft rate. With an almost neutral .308 BABIP and terrific 14.0 K/9 backing up the breakout talk from last season, count us as believers.
2018 PROJECTION: .284 16 HR 75 RBI 84 R 26 SB