Whit Merrifield

Whit Merrifield

33-Year-Old Second Baseman2B
Toronto Blue Jays
Out
Injury Head
Est. Return 2/1/2023
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Merrifield was the subject of trade speculation since he broke out for the Royals in 2017, and the team finally dealt him to the Blue Jays last season. It's really a move that came a couple years late, as the veteran utility man had a career-worst .642 OPS for Kansas City prior to the deal. He fared better in Toronto with a .769 OPS in 44 games, so he's heading into 2023 with a slightly more positive outlook. The 34-year-old closed out last year with 11 home runs, 58 RBI, 70 runs and 16 stolen bases, with the steals representing a significant dip from his 2021 production (40 thefts). Joining the Blue Jays' potent lineup should provide a boost to Merrifield's counting stats in 2023, and he'll likely open spring training as the favorite to start at second base. Even if he does continue to rebound from his poor first half of 2021, Merrifield shouldn't be expected to rediscover his All-Star form from 2018 and 2019, when he had a 115 wRC+. Read Past Outlooks
RANKS
$Signed a four-year, $16.25 million contract extension with the Royals in January of 2019. Royals exercised $6.75 million team option for 2023 in April of 2022. Traded to the Blue Jays in August of 2022. Contract includes $18 million mutual option ($500,000 buyout) for 2024.
Exits after pitch hits head
2BToronto Blue Jays
Head
October 8, 2022
Merrifield left Saturday's game against Seattle after taking a pitch off his helmet, Mitch Bannon of SI.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Merrifield initially stayed in the game to run the bases but was replaced by Raimel Tapia when the Blue Jays took the field. The fact that the team was leading by seven runs and inserted one of its better outfield defenders suggests that the move may have been at least somewhat tactical rather than purely injury-related.
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Batting Stats
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2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2022 MLB Game Log
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2021 MLB Game Log
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2020 MLB Game Log
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2019 MLB Game Log
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2018 MLB Game Log
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2017 MLB Game Log
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
51
11
2
4
4
12
8
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
25
2
1
2
6
1
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2020
 
 
+3%
OPS vs LHP
2022
 
 
+8%
OPS vs LHP
2021
 
 
+2%
OPS vs LHP
2020
 
 
+4%
OPS vs LHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2020vs Left .726 405 58 9 40 23 .264 .311 .415
Since 2020vs Right .702 1122 146 21 122 45 .270 .312 .390
2022vs Left .711 158 20 5 19 2 .238 .291 .420
2022vs Right .658 392 50 6 39 14 .255 .301 .357
2021vs Left .720 196 30 3 18 18 .276 .316 .403
2021vs Right .708 524 67 7 56 22 .277 .317 .391
2020vs Left .800 51 8 1 3 3 .298 .353 .447
2020vs Right .766 206 29 8 27 9 .280 .320 .446
More Splits View More Split Stats
Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2020
 
 
+7%
OPS on Road
2022
 
 
+11%
OPS on Road
2021
 
 
+6%
OPS at Home
2020
 
 
+44%
OPS on Road
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2020Home .683 746 97 10 63 32 .266 .314 .369
Since 2020Away .733 785 108 20 99 36 .272 .311 .422
2022Home .637 255 25 2 19 6 .249 .302 .335
2022Away .705 295 45 9 39 10 .251 .295 .410
2021Home .733 363 54 5 36 19 .285 .328 .405
2021Away .689 357 43 5 38 21 .269 .305 .384
2020Home .633 128 18 3 8 7 .244 .297 .336
2020Away .913 133 20 6 22 5 .328 .361 .552
More Splits View More Split Stats
Stat Review
How does Whit Merrifield compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity and Barrels/PA % are benchmarked against 2019 data (min 400 PA) and Hard Hit Rate is benchmarked against last season's data (min 400 PA). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • BB/K
    Walk to strikeout ratio
  • BB Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a walk.
  • K Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a strikeout.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits.
  • ISO
    Isolated Power. Slugging percentage minus batting average. A computation used to measure a batter's raw power.
  • AVG
    Batting average. Hits divided by at bats.
  • OBP
    On Base Percentage. A measure of how often a batters reaches base. Roughly equal to number of times on base divided by plate appearances.
  • SLG
    Slugging Percentage. A measure of the batting productivity of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats.
  • OPS
    On base plus slugging. THe sum of a batter's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
  • wOBA
    Weighted on-base average. Measures a player's overall offensive contributions per plate appearance. wOBA combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Hard Hit Rate
    A measure of contact quality from Sports Info Solutions. This stat explains what percentage of batted balls were hit hard vs. medium or soft.
  • Barrels/PA
    The percentage of plate appearances where a batter had a batted ball classified as a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Expected BA
    Expected Batting Average.
  • Expected SLG
    Expected Slugging Percentage.
  • Sprint Speed
    The speed of a runner from home to first, in feet per second.
  • Ground Ball %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are on the ground.
  • Line Drive %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are line drives.
  • Fly Ball %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are fly balls.
BB/K
0.45
 
BB Rate
6.9%
 
K Rate
15.5%
 
BABIP
.276
 
ISO
.125
 
AVG
.250
 
OBP
.298
 
SLG
.375
 
OPS
.673
 
wOBA
.296
 
Exit Velocity
87.1 mph
 
Hard Hit Rate
25.1%
 
Barrels/PA
3.3%
 
Expected BA
.240
 
Expected SLG
.356
 
Sprint Speed
23.4 ft/sec
 
Ground Ball %
40.9%
 
Line Drive %
19.7%
 
Fly Ball %
39.4%
 
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Batted Ball Stats
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Stats Vs Upcoming Pitchers
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
Since he's started every single game over the past three seasons, Merrifield has provided a bountiful totals in the count stats, most notably runs scored and stolen bases. His 40 steals last season put him second in the league behind only Starling Marte. Previously, he'd stated that he quits stealing bases once the Royals are out of postseason contention and that approach can be seen with only two steals in September along with no home runs. His power has been slowly on the decline, with his .117 ISO and 5.0% HR/FB last year being his lowest since his rookie season. While he's still hitting the ball hard -- Merrifield's 107.8 mph MaxEV was a four-year high -- he's putting more balls on the ground (40.7 GB% in 2021). The Royals will keep playing him, but his real-world usefulness as a hitter is becoming suspect after he posted a .711 OPS last season (.811 OPS in 2019). His playing time is likely safe for 2022, but the decline is happening fast.
Two-hit Whit continues to be a steady producer for fantasy players. It says something when a .282 batting average is a hitter's career-worst effort as was the case for Merrifield in 2020. The low average is not due to him striking out because his 12.5 K% last season was a career-best. It is just that Merrifield puts a lot of balls into play with a high-contact and declining-walk-rate approach, so his batted-ball fortunes pull his average one way or the other. Both in 2017 and 2020, his hit rate was at league average and his batting average was in the .280s. In 2018 and 2019, he had more dying quails, duck snorts and seeing-eye singles which pushed his batting average north of .300. He is a threat to run any time he is on base, and he is seemingly on base twice a game. Models of statistical consistency and health like this are rare; roster with confidence that he continues his course.
Merrifield ranked among the top 40 hitters in rotisserie baseball last season, but he was a second-rounder on average in the NFBC last March because of the 45 he posted in the SB column the year before and was a bit of a letdown at that acquisition cost. He was thrown out on the basepaths as many times as he was in 2018, in 25 fewer attempts. Perhaps because of his diminished efficiency, Merrifield's attempts were scaled back as the season wore on (20 attempts in the first half, 10 after the break). While Merrifield is relatively new to the scene, he's already going to be 31 on Opening Day and speed is usually the first skill to go as a player advances to this stage on the aging curve. The rest of the numbers look pretty safe given his bat-to-ball skills and expected volume, but if his SB chances are reduced further under new manager Mike Matheny, Merrifield will fall closer to the pack at second base.
Merrifield had plenty of skeptics after his out-of-nowhere 19-homer, 34-steal campaign in 2017, but the 30-year-old quieted his doubters and surpassed even the most optimistic projections. Though he noticed a minor power drop and a downturn in RBI largely fueled by the lack of talent flanking him, Merrifield improved by just about every other measure. Most of his value came from his .304 average and 45 stolen bases, with his production rendered more significant by the MLB-wide mean in both categories reaching their lowest levels since 1972. A .352 BABIP helped Merrifield uphold the lofty average, but he created some of his own good fortune by steadily raising his line-drive (29.8%) and hard-hit (36.9%) rates while posting a Statcast Sprint Speed that ranked in the 91st percentile. The team context around Merrifield won't be much better in 2019, but it may only further embolden manager Ned Yost to give him the green light to run.
Merrifield led the American League in stolen bases last season despite spending the first couple weeks in the minors, and he showed a surprising power stroke after hitting a mere two homers in 332 plate appearances in 2016. A dramatic leap in flyball rate -- from 29.8 percent to 40.5 percent -- and correction in his HR/FB (and likely a new baseball) fueled the power breakout, although the hard-hit data suggests Merrifield overachieved. Moreover, Merrifield hit 13 of his 19 homers at home, and Kauffman Stadium was the fourth-worst park for homers last season; simply put, he will have a hard time repeating that home-run output in 2018. He doesn't walk much at all, but Merrifield puts the ball in play consistently (14.0 percent strikeout rate), and that skill along with his speed should help Merrifield stick atop the Royals' batting order. Unfortunately, there will likely be a significantly worse team around him with so many of Kansas City's top players expected to leave via free agency this winter.
Merrifield was deceivingly solid last season, but his future prospects are dimmed by the reality that his performance was buoyed by a high batting average with little in the way of peripheral stats, including just a 5.7 percent walk rate and a .109 ISO. The 28-year-old is likely to be soft on upside, and a repeat of last year's half-season performance over a full campaign would be a success. Whether the Royals allow the Swiss Army knife to accumulate that much playing time is another issue altogether. Positional versatility might be the biggest feather in Merrifield's cap as well as his greatest utility to fantasy owners in 2017, as it not only allows for some roster flexibility, but it also gives him more opportunities for playing time. However, he's unlikely to be more than a placeholder for the Royals, or for fantasy owners in 2017.
More Fantasy News
Takes seat for Game 2 of twin bill
2BToronto Blue Jays
October 5, 2022
Merrifield is out of the lineup for the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader with the Orioles.
ANALYSIS
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Three more hits Monday
2BToronto Blue Jays
October 4, 2022
Merrifield went 3-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI in Monday's 5-1 win over the Orioles.
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Catching fire late in season
2BToronto Blue Jays
October 3, 2022
Merrifield went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBI and an additional run in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Red Sox.
ANALYSIS
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Reclaims full-time role
2BToronto Blue Jays
September 26, 2022
Merrifield will start at second base and bat ninth in Monday's game against the Yankees.
ANALYSIS
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Slugs in important win
2BToronto Blue Jays
September 25, 2022
Merrifield went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, three RBI and a run scored in Saturday's win over Tampa Bay.
ANALYSIS
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