• 86°

Iron Man: Merrifield sets another record with consecutive games played

Whit Merrifield of Advance has another momentous achievement for his portfolio.

The second baseman/right fielder/leadoff batter for Kansas City already owned the Royals’ record for longest hitting streak (31 games set in 2018-19).

On Aug. 11, he tied the club record for consecutive stolen bases without being caught (33). When he stole his 32nd base of the season, he had only been caught once. That is the most SBs in major league history by a player who was caught stealing no more than once. (Carlos Beltran in 2001 and Brady Anderson in 1994 were both 31 for 32.) He tied Beltran’s consecutive-stolen-bases-without-being-caught record when he swiped his 33rd bag.

Now the two-time all-star has set the Royals’ record for consecutive games played, his streak reaching 422 on Aug. 14. The streak started on June 25, 2018. It’s the longest active streak in Major League Baseball.

The day before breaking the record, Merrifield told reporters: “I mean, who wants to come out of the lineup? I don’t really understand people’s fascination with giving guys a day off. I’ve never understood that. Unless you’ve got something nagging … You’re a catcher playing a day game after a night game, then I could understand. But besides that I’ve just never understood the fascination with giving guys a day.

“It’s 25 percent physically preparing yourself, as far as workouts and diet and regimen. And 75 percent is mentality. Waking up excited to play that day. Being able to wake up every day, excited to come to the field, no matter where things are as a team or individually. If you don’t have that mindset every day, you’re not going to play 162 games.”

Merrifield, who was hitting .277 with 37 steals in 39 tries through Sunday, broke the 421 consecutive-games-played mark that was held by former Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar from Sept. 26, 2015 through July 7, 2018.

Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said: “There’s so many minor disciplines that allow a guy to be able to do that. The discipline of rest. The discipline of work. The balance of the two is hard for a player to understand how to do that before they jump in this thing for a while. Then there’s a level of toughness and grit and grind. That’s something Whit has always showed by how he goes and plays the game. He’s not half-stepping out there. He’s one of the dirtier players that walks off the field. When you have that mix of grit and grind and durability, you know you’re watching something pretty special.”