Whit Merrifield ended the season with 34 steals, becoming the fifth Royals player to lead the American League in stolen bases. Merrifield, who did not even begin the season in the big leagues, joins Amos Otis (1971), Fred Patek (1977), Willie Wilson (1979), and Johnny Damon (2000) as Royals to lead the league in swipes. Cameron Maybin of the Astros finished second with 33 steals, and teammate Jose Altuve finished with 32. It is the lowest total to lead either league since Luis Aparicio stole 31 bases to lead the American League in 1962.
Merrifield not only stole a lot of bases, but was efficient doing so, swiping bases with an 80.9% success rate, 11th-best in all of baseball among players with at least 20 steals. He was a solid baserunner overall, ranking 14th in all of baseball in “Baserunning Runs”, according to Fangraphs.
Merrifield’s season was the 49th time in Royals history a player has swiped 30 bases in a season. Whit fell a home run short of becoming just the third player in club history to hit 20 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season, a feat only Carlos Beltran (three times), and Amos Otis accomplished.
As a team, the Royals stole 91 bases this year, sixth-best in the American League.