By Brian Pitts
In the 2021 season, Advance’s Whit Merrifield got in the same line with Ty Cobb.
Still, the ever-hungry Merrifield was not satisfied.
“This year has been weird for me,” the Kansas City frontman said during the final week of the regular season. “I was not up to the bar that I had set for myself offensively. I have done good things. I had some good streaks, but I didn’t live up to my standards.
Royals manager Mike Matheny disagrees with that assessment. In his eyes, Merrifield’s season was great.
“How could you be unhappy with this year?” said Matheny.
Merrifield became the seventh player in Major League Baseball history to record multiple 40 steals and 40 doubles seasons. The others: Brian Roberts (2007-08), Hanley Ramirez (2006-07), Alfonso Soriano (2002, 2006), George Sisler (1920, 1922), Tris Speaker (1912, 1914) and Cobb (1911, 1917).
The only other Royals player with a season of 40 steals and 40 doubles was Johnny Damon in 2000.
He led the Majors in batting (664), led the American League in stolen bases (40), and tied for the MLB lead among second basemen in defensive runs saved. He was third in the AL in hits (184).
How about this: He’s the first player since Charlie Gehringer in 1929 to lead the AL in doubles and steals.
Matheny said: “He sets the tone when he enters the box. I believe he will win the gold glove. I understand. He stands at a high level and he wants to lead the league in sacks. I’m sure he probably wanted another 10 home runs. But man, let’s be real. It has been a terrific season.
Merrifield: “Any time you’re on a roster with (Cobb) it’s amazing.”
Oh, and Merrifield has played 469 straight games, a Kansas City record and the longest active streak at the majors.
“I can tell you that after Game 162 there wasn’t a day where we thought he needed to take a day off,” Matheny said. “It’s a huge compliment to the way Whit is preparing.”