Whit Merrifield Is Just What the Phillies Paid For

Phillies Whit Merrifield
Philadelphia Phillies’ Whit Merrifield slides home to score on a single by Edmundo Sosa during the second inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

When the Phillies signed White Merrifield to a 1-year $8 million contract in March there was a large debate among fans whether it was worth it.

On one side of the coin, the Phillies got a 2023 All-Star to be their 9th starter. A career .284 hitter with 200+ stolen bases makes any team better. He’s a player that’s seen action at 5 different positions as recently as 2022.

On the other side, the Phillies were signing a player whose best tool is speed at the ripe age of 35. He was a tale of 2 halves as he hit just .212 with a .538 OPS from August onward. The $8 that he is getting could be used to facilitate an in-season trade to fill any potential holes.

Both arguments were fair, but it would take real regular-season games to see if the move paid off.

Merrifield Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Whit Merrifield throws to first base to complete a double play against San Francisco Giants’ LaMonte Wade Jr., right, and Wilmer Flores and during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Merrifield’s Slow Start

After a torrid Spring Training, Merrifield got off to a slow regular-season start. He started 2/3 games in the opening Braves series and went 1/7 with a single. It was a lot of the same through the Phillies’ first 19 games. Merrifield slashed just .107/.167/.107 in that time.

Things changed when Merrifield got his first extra-base hit against the White Sox. A solo shot to left field seemed to get him going.

Just What the Phillies Ordered

From April 19th on, Whit Merrifield has been a breath of fresh air for the Phillies’ offense. He’s currently on an 8-game hit streak and hitting .379 during that span. He’s raised his season batting average from .107 to .246.

He’s been flexible for the Phillies too, playing at 3 different positions defensively.

Merrifield being the Phillies’ 9th man has paid off recently with Trea Turner’s injury. On Monday, he filled in at 2B while Bryson Stott slid over to SS, a position he last played in game 6 of the 2022 World Series.

On Tuesday night, he got the start in left field to provide the Phillies with a more offensive look against ERA leader Jose Berrios. While he only went 1/5, he lined out twice. He’s still seeing the ball well.

So far, he’s proving to be worth every penny of his $8 million deal.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Nick Wass)