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Deep Pickups 6/16: Hitters

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Whit Merrifield - 2B, KC

Owned in 14% of Yahoo leagues

His classic, old-school baseball name isn't the only reason Whit Merrifield should grab your attention. He's also on a roll, and finding himself in rather favorable circumstances in Kansas City.

Merrifield has been a breath of fresh air for a Royals lineup that has been struck by some key injuries this season. The 27-year-old made his major-league debut after being called up in May, and since then his defensive flexibility and hot bat have proven quite valuable for KC.

He has filled in at left field and third base, but mostly Merrifield has played second since his call-up. He finds his way into the lineup with extreme frequency, starting in 23 of the Royals' 26 games since his May 18th promotion, and he has been extremely consistent offensively with at least one hit in all but two of those starts.

The result of that consistent output is a fantastic .330/.343/.500 slash line. We're not expecting the average to stay up above .300 considering his ugly 19-to-2 K/BB ratio. We're also not really expecting the power to keep up as it has, even though Merrifield has shown few signs of slowing down in that department and picked up both his first MLB home run and triple on Monday. It's important to note that he has slugged only .399 in 683 minor-league games.

But Merrifield's speed looks like a sustainable asset. He has already swiped three bags in four tries for the ever-aggressive Royals, and he had gone 16-for-17 on steals at Triple-A before he was called up. Last year in Omaha, he notched 32 stolen bases.

His ability to produce on the base paths is particularly compelling when he's hitting at the top of the lineup, as he has been for some time in Kansas City. Manager Ned Yost bumped Merrifield up to the second spot in the order soon after he joined the club, and last week the versatile speedster was nudged up to the leadoff spot, where he has now drawn six straight starts.

Based on his track record, there isn't much reason to expect Merrifield to keep his OPS up in the mid-800s over the long haul, but he doesn't need to so in order to offer considerable fantasy value. As a leadoff hitter with speed and multi-position eligibility, Merrifield is a solid asset.

Angel Pagan - OF, SF

Owned in 14% of Yahoo leagues

So far this year, Angel Pagan has had a tough time staying on the field. He has missed multiple stretches with hamstring injuries, limiting him to just 35 total games thus far. As such, it isn't hard to see why he is being overlooked in fantasy circles, especially considering his underwhelming recent track record.

But the veteran outfielder does have a track record, and a rather extensive one. He has performed well when he's been able to play this year, and after returning to the Giants this week from his latest setback, he is worth a look in deeper leagues.

Despite the hammy issues, Pagan has been running this season. In his 37 games he is 5-for-6 on steal attempts. Although he doesn't quite boast the same electricity he did when he stole 37 bags in 2010 or led the NL with 15 triples in 2012, Pagan remains a quick runner with a tendency to take off frequently.

Characteristically, the 34-year-old has hit for a decent average -- he almost always seems to hover around his career .280 mark -- and he has chipped in a few extra-base hits, although it's worth noting that he hasn't slugged above .400 since 2013.

When he went down with his initial hamstring strain in early May, Pagan was slashing .315/.366/.457. He batted just .143 over nine games before coming up lame again, suggesting that maybe he wasn't quite right. He has now had a lengthier period to rest, and he batted .364 during a rehab stint, so perhaps Pagan is ready to hit the ground running. Early returns have been promising in that regard. In two games since coming off the DL, he has gone 4-for-9 with two doubles and two RBI. 

At the very least, Pagan figures to play everyday and produce moderately across the key categories.

Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to NBC Sports Edge's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.