BOSTON -- Willie Mays didn't accomplish this. Barry Bonds didn't, either. Not even Michael Trout.Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield recently accomplished something only six other players in the history of Major League Baseball have been able to do: In his first 162 games, Merrifield had 175-plus hits, 80-plus runs scored,
BOSTON -- Willie Mays didn't accomplish this. Barry Bonds didn't, either. Not even Michael Trout.
Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield recently accomplished something only six other players in the history of Major League Baseball have been able to do: In his first 162 games, Merrifield had 175-plus hits, 80-plus runs scored, 40-plus doubles and 20-plus steals.
"That's pretty cool," Merrifield said when informed of the feat.
Here's something else that's interesting: Three players on the list all are at Fenway Park this weekend. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez of the Red Sox also put together those numbers in their first 162.
The other four on this list were Vada Pinson, Kiddo Davis, Roy Johnson and Kiki Cuyler.
Merrifield said he was honored to be in that company.
"For sure," Merrifield said. "It's really cool to be part of anything like that."
Royals manager Ned Yost is impressed as well, though hardly surprised. Merrifield caught Yost's eye during Spring Training in 2016.
A late bloomer, Merrifield, 28, now is entrenched as the team's second baseman, likely for years to come.
"He's a player that can do a lot of things offensively," Yost said. "He's got some pop. He can steal a bag. He can hit the other way. He hits in the clutch. It's a pretty good skillset."
And to think that Merrifield wasn't even on the Opening Day roster, though that stemmed from Merrifield having options, and Cheslor Cuthbert and Christian Colon not having options. As Spring Training came to a close, the Royals tried to sneak Colon through waivers, but a team claimed him, so the Royals pulled waivers back. And Merrifield headed to the Minors.
But in less than three weeks, Merrifield was back in the big leagues. And since then, he's a big reason why the Royals are firmly in contention for a postseason spot. He entered Saturday's game against the Red Sox hitting .294 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and 16 steals.
And by playing every day at second base, Merrifield, often labeled a super utility man, has grown into the position.
"The more repetitions you get, naturally you're going to get better," Merrifield said. "It gets easier. It's about getting more familiar with our pitchers and what they're throwing. I can see a pitch and I know where to lean. You might see a fastball that the hitter will be late on, and you can maybe cheat in the four-hole.
"And it's helped playing with [shortstop Alcides Escobar] and [third baseman Mike Moustakas] every day. It helps on the [double-play] turns. I know how they like to feed me. It makes it quicker and that can make all the difference."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.