Skip to main content

Draft or Pass: Pump the Fantasy Draft Brakes on Whit Merrifield

Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals is being overdrafted. SI Fantasy's Jaime Eisner explains why it's happening and why you shouldn't go along with it.

The still-to-be-determined start of the 2020 MLB season has added an interesting wrinkle to fantasy baseball draft prep. We here at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts in these unprecedented times.

Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts, in many cases, because of the delayed start to the season. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?

Today's video focuses on Kansas City Royals 2B/OF Whit Merrifield.

Draft or Pass at current ADP: 47.2 (OF17 / No. 5 2B)?

Merrifield went from an underrated player savvy fantasy managers could bank on in the middle rounds to a highly-targeted five-category player. The issue for those who bought in last season is that his stolen base totals dropped precipitously. That category will define Merrifield's 2020 fantasy season.

If Merrifield can get back to the 45 steals he had in 2018, or even the 34 steals he had in 2017, he'll far exceed his current draft-day price just inside the Top 50. If he's around 20, like he was in 2019, then he's nothing more than a solid 5th or 6th round player.

What makes me a little nervous is that Merrifield attempted only 30 steals last season and got caught on one-third of them. The percentage itself is scary enough, but merely attempting to swipe a bag 30 times after having 42 attempts in 2017 and 55 attempts in 2018 raises some red flags. Was he nursing an injury? Now 31, does Merrifield not trust his foot speed as much as he used to?

Fantasy managers won't get definitive answers to that question until play resumes, but here's what I projected for him back in March: 89 runs, 14 home runs, 65 RBI, 21 stolen bases, and a .288 batting average in 624 at-bats. Those numbers will need to be prorated over a partial season, but at those totals, Merrifield is my No. 20 OF, No. 7 2B, and No. 68 overall player.

READ MORE: 2020 Kansas City Royals Fantasy Team Preview