Wiz Whit

Josh Kurzer breaks down last night's best hitting performances.

Whit Merrifield (KC): 3-5, 2B, 3 R, SB.

The Royals’ shortstop has been the epitome of consistency over the last five years. Merrifield has never played a season in which he has held a batting average lower than .280. He has double-digit home runs in each of the 162-game seasons he has played since 2017 and even came close in the shortened 2020 season, blasting nine in those 60 games. He has also stolen at least 40 bases in each of the 162-game seasons he has played since 2017. Merrifield is a five-tool player who is often overlooked due to the fact that he plays for a losing team in a small-market city.

Merrifield has played 50 games since the All-Star break and has recorded at least one hit in 40 of them. Over this stretch, he has recorded a 12 game hit streak and has gone consecutive games without recording a hit just once. Merrifield has a short, quiet swing that does not generate a lot of power. While he does not have a ton of power, his bat speed and plate coverage make him a threat to all fields. Combined with his elite speed, any ball in play is a chance for Merrifield to reach base with a hit. Fortunately for him, putting the ball in play is something he does a lot. Merrifield’s 13.8% K rate puts him comfortably in the top 10% of the league in avoiding strikeouts, and his low whiff rate of 16.9% shows he rarely swings and misses. The abilities to showcase high-end speed and a low whiff rate are how Merrifield maintains success and remains one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday

Marcus Semien (TOR): 2-3, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Semien has been one of the league’s best hitters of late, and his hot play continued last night in the Bronx. The shortstop reached base in four of his five plate appearances and drove in two runs for Toronto. Last night’s performance extended Semien’s hitting streak to eight games, a stretch in which he has five home runs and 12 RBI.

Yadier Molina (STL): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Molina’s two-run home run gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game last night, and they never looked back, going on to win 5-4. It was Molina’s second home run in five games after going on a 39-game stretch without a home run.

Andrew Benintendi (KC): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI.

It was a big night for the Royals left fielder, Andrew Benintendi. He had three hits on the night and drove in five runs, but it was not enough as Kansas City ended up losing to Baltimore, 9-8. Benintendi has recorded a hit in just three of his last eight games, but all three have been multi-hit games.

Bryce Harper (PHI): 1-1, HR, R, 2 RBI, 3 BB.

Harper walked three times last night and made the most of the only chance he had to swing the bat with an early home run off of Freddy Peralta in the first inning. The 330 million dollar man has been scorching hot recently. Harper has recorded at least one hit in 13 of his last 14 games, batting .382 with six home runs and 16 RBI over that stretch.

Nathaniel Lowe (TEX): 3-5, 2B, 3B, 3 R, RBI.

Lowe finished last night’s game just a triple shy of the cycle. He ended up with three hits, drove in a run, and scored each of the three times he reached base. It has been a good run for Lowe recently. In his last 18 games, he is batting .383 with two homers, eight RBI, 15 runs scored, and six doubles.

Elias Diaz (COL): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

The Rockies catcher needed a game like last night to break him out of a slump that had seen him pick up just one hit in his last eleven at-bats. Whereas Lowe finished a home run shy of the cycle, Diaz finished a triple shy of the cycle. Last night’s home run was the 16th of the season for Diaz, extending his new career-high.

Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB.

Highly-touted prospect Jarred Kelenic has struggled mightily in his rookie season with Seattle, but he has been better of late. Last night was a strong performance for the youngster, picking up two hits and driving in two runs. Kelenic has recorded a hit in six of his last seven games but is still hitting just .165 on the year.

Robbie Grossman (DET): 4-5, HR, 3 R, RBI.

Grossman finished this series with another monster game in Pittsburgh. He scored three runs and added a solo shot in the seventh to give the Tigers some insurance. Last night’s effort was just the finishing touch on a dominant series, in which Grossman went 7-13 with a double and a home run.

Miguel Cabrera (DET): 4-4, 2B, 3 RBI.

Mr. 500 continued to defy father time with a perfect 4-4 game at the dish last night. Cabrera drove in a run with each of his first three hits, helping Detroit to a 5-1 victory. Miggy is on a tear to start the month of September, now 10-19 to start the month. In just his last two games, he has recorded seven hits in his last eight at-bats.

One response to “Wiz Whit”

  1. Old Newspaper Guy says:

    Journalistically speaking, always a good idea to actually say who you’re talking about at the beginning of a piece like this (particularly in this case, since Merrifield has never played shortstop in the majors).

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