Courtesy of the Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield to a multi-year contract through 2022, with a club option for the 2023 season. Consistent with club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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Merrifield, 30, made the Opening Day roster for the first time in 2018 and recorded career highs in games (158), runs (88), hits (192), doubles (43), walks (61), stolen bases (45), batting average (.304), on-base percentage (.367) and OPS (.806), all of which led the Royals. For his efforts, Merrifield was named the Les Milgram Player of the Year, voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the BBWAA.
Merrifield led the Majors in both hits and stolen bases, becoming the third player since WWII to accomplish that feat, joining Dee Gordon (2015) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001). He was just the third Royal to lead the Majors in hits, joining Willie Wilson (1980) and George Brett (1976, ’79), and was the second Royal to lead the Majors in steals, joining Wilson (1979).
Merrifield is the only player in the Majors since 2017 with at least 70 doubles (75) and 70 stolen bases (American League-best 79). No other player has at least 60 of each.
He played in 158 of the Royals’ 162 games last season, including starts at: second base (107), center field (27), designated hitter (10), right field, (7), first base (5) and left field (1). Only two players started at least five games at more than five different positions: Niko Goodrum and Neil Walker (6 each).
Merrifield ended the 2018 season on a career-high 20-game hit streak, the longest in the Majors last season and the longest by a Royal since Jose Guillen (21 games) in 2010.
Since making his Major League debut on May 18, 2016, Merrifield’s .293 career batting average ranks fourth in the American League (min. 1,500 at-bats), trailing only: José Altuve (.334), Mookie Betts (.313) and José Ramírez (.299). Merrifield’s 87 steals since his debut lead the American League.
Merrifield was selected by Kansas City in the ninth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of South Carolina.