An advanced play on words that sounds like a sickness from eating spoiled mayonnaise? Perhaps. OR could it be in reference to a baseball player named “Whit” and the regret you may feel drafting him early and then watching him fuel your impending ulcer in the first month of the season? Naw, couldn’t be that one. But it’s okay folks, with Whit’s struggles so far this season, there has certainly been the now trademarked “Whitgret” taking place among the people and I’m here to say hold up! First make sure and confirm that you know this content is actually about Whit Merrifield, not Bobby Witt. Too many Whits so Wittle time. (That one is free.) Second, maybe try some Pepto Bismol. And if that doesn’t work, alcohol might. Third, try not to be repulsed by Merrifield’s .151/.198/.183 triple-slash so far, because frankly, you should be way beyond repulsion at this point. What’s worse than repulsion? Propulsion? Science baby. Especially when he’s coming off a 2021 campaign that saw him produce a more pleasing and palatable .277/.317/.395 which while not exactly elite, was enough to enable 40 stolen bases and 97 runs. But since he’s on pace for none of these things thus far, rightfully, there is concern and alcoholism.
Generally considered in or around the top-5 middle infielders before the season started, this pool was unique in that you could just name it: The Not Trea Turner Tier. While sifting through the Albies, Semiens, Lowes, etc. the one thing that perhaps allowed Merrifield to stand out was the fact that he was kinda unexcitingly safe and had the potential to single-handedly pad your stolen base category all season long. After all, we’re talking about a player who has 151 SB since 2017 and stole 40 bases twice and over 30 once in that span. (His 12 SB during the 2020 Covid shortened season would have projected as 30 SB in a full season.) An added bonus was his batting average and the volume of PA’s that came attached, as he’s averaged 698 plate appearances the last five seasons (sans 2020) and leveraged nearly a .300 BA during that same time. Just ignoring his pedestrian OBP and SLG, what Whit brought to the table was pretty neat. Or Wheat in this case. Maybe not.
Add into the fact that Merrifield would be hitting in front of Salvador Perez, and as we all learned during Spring Training, uber-prospect Bobby Witt (not related, duh) would be added into the heart of the batting order as well, hope springs eternal, as they say. Runs would fall from the sky. SB for you, for me, for everyone! Not so much. Combined with the fact that he was also dropped from the normal leadoff/two-hole order down to the fifth almost a week ago, he has certainly drawn the ire of current owners and perhaps some intrigue from everyone else.
I mean, why not? Like I stated, let’s not mistake Merrifield as someone who is going to light my fire, I generally save that for your mother. But, everything that was premised in this post still remains true to this day. Lest we be swayed by 23 games worth of data compared to 758. Remember, his BB% and K% remain stable in comparison to his career numbers. He’s been a little pull happy compared to last season, but he’s hitting the ball harder (28% vs. 26.2% in 2021) and literally all of his Plate Discipline metrics are in line with his career sans O-Contact% which is to be expected from a player who perceives he is struggling. It’s just a simulated construct bro!
But seriously, it sorta is.
His current BABIP is really atrocious sitting at .171, but as he regresses back to his career .325 mark, Merrifield will see the benefits of his profile return. More hits, more chances at stolen bases, and more chances at runs. The real question is, can you wait for it? There is something to be said about locked returns, the meaning here being that what he’s accumulated so far is on the record and will be part of your season whether you like it or not. Unless of course, you went with another middle infielder not named Trea Turner. Or I guess also named Trea Turner. So for all of you feeling the Whitgret, you are basically going to be feeling that whether he’s on your roster or not because even when he does snap out of this funk and start producing, he’d still be hard pressed to end the season with this usual results.
So you just have to weigh it. If he’s *not* on your team and you need a player with his skillset, now is the time to buy. But if he *is* on your team, now is probably not the time to sell, at least not yet. Your mileage of course may vary but just based on the small sample size and what all the numbers are saying, this looks more slump than old n’ busted.
Live with no Whitgrets.
Great mantra for life, and especially for mayonnaise.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.