USC Gamecocks Baseball

Hit machine: South Carolina great Whit Merrifield wins another hits title

For the second straight season, Whit Merrifield is Major League Baseball’s top hit getter.

The former South Carolina Gamecock and current Kansas City Royals utility man finished the season with 206 hits after going 0-for-2 Sunday against Minnesota. Merrifield received a standing ovation when he was removed from the game in the middle of the third inning.

Merrifield played in all 162 games this season and hit .302 with 16 homers and 74 RBI. He also earn his first trip to MLB All-Star game.

Merrifield is the first player to lead the majors in hits in consecutive seasons since Ichiro Suzuki did it from 2006-10. He also is the first right-handed hitter to lead the majors in hits in back-to-back seasons since Kirby Puckett in 1988-89.

Merrifield and Boston’s Rafael Devers were the only players in baseball this season to have more than 200 hits.

It was the first time Merrifield went over 200 hits for his career and it’s just the eighth time it has been done in Kansas City Royals history. Merrifield said earlier this year that 200 hits was a big goal of his this season.

Merrifield had 192 hits last year.

“I could set a goal to hit 40 homers, but realistically I’m probably not going to do that. I’m a hit guy,” Merrifield told the Kansas City Star. “I don’t walk a lot. I don’t care to walk really. I want to go out, step up and hit. So having that mindset, having that mentality and having that be a part of my game, I felt like 200 hits was a good goal for me to try to go get. I’m just happy that I could accomplish that goal.”