Merrifield shows speed with inside-the-park homer

Published 10:15 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

Kansas City was a lowly 30-61 at the All-Star break. Now it’s one of the hottest teams in the American League, winning seven of 10 since the break.

Davie County’s Whit Merrifield hit an inside-the-park home run in an 11-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. He sliced a liner into the right-field corner. Getting the green light from third-base coach Mike Jirschele, Merrifield raced for home and slid head first. The home-plate umpire banged him out, but replay reversed the call.

Merrifield said: “I saw (the right fielder) dive and miss it. And I know that corner. It gets in that corner, it will keep rolling and I knew I had a chance. I got to third and I saw Jirsch send me, and my wheels started spinning, arms started flailing. I was getting tired. I slid in and I couldn’t see if my hand actually got to the plate. But I knew he didn’t tag me before that.”

Manager Ned Yost: “As soon as (bench coach) Dale (Sveum) said, ‘Challenge,’ I was pretty excited.”

According to Statcast, Merrifield’s 29.7 feet/second sprint speed was just shy of the elite 30 feet/second mark. His time around the bases was 14.82 seconds, the fastest recorded in the major leagues this season of the 11 inside-the-park home runs.

Merrifield: “I was glad it was as fast as it was, because if it was any slower I’d have been out. I mean, that gassed me for about three innings.”

It was Merrifield’s first inside-the-park homer of his career and his 12th homer this season. He also had a single and double in the game.

What we’re seeing in Merrifield’s third full season in the majors is special. Through July 20, he was among the American League leaders in at least seven categories, including first-place rankings in two.

He was first in hits (131) and tied for first in triples (nine). He was tied for second in total bases (212), tied for third in doubles (28), fifth in batting average (.313), tied for sixth in runs scored (70) and tied for ninth in stolen bases (15).