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​Whit Merrifield and Trea Turner are two of the hottest names in the next generation of fantasy baseball middle-infield stars. While Turner receives more national attention, as the Washington Nationals have been in the thick of playoff races in recent years, Merrifield is one of the most solid ​second baseman in baseball.

With Turner going in the first round of early mock fantasy baseball drafts and Merrifield coming in as a late third-round pick, it's a question of snagging the elite ​shortstop in Trea versus a scrappy do-it-all second-base option.

The Kansas City Royals were eager to lock Merrifield up, with a multi-year extension that will keep in KC through at least 2023, if they exercise their team option. Although Turner is known for his speed, Merrifield quietly stole 45 bases to Turner's 43 last season.

In addition, while Turner leads the two in home runs, RBI and runs, Merrifield's approach at the plate is something that can pay off for fantasy owners. Merrifield hit .304 last year, with a .367 on-base percentage, while slugging at a .438 rate. Turner, meanwhile, hit .271, with a .344 OBP and and .416 slugging percentage. Turner also strikes out more, and has missed significant time in the past couple of seasons with a wrist injury.

Ultimately, while the hotter pick might be Turner, I like Merrifield. Despite already being 30 years old, Merrifield has just begun to cement himself in the upper ranks of the league. Meanwhile, with ​Bryce Harper likely out of Washington, Turner's value might take a hit without one of the league's best hitters protecting him in the lineup.

Whit is the type of hard-nosed player that general managers, teammates and fantasy owners alike all love. In the last two seasons, he's missed only 19 total games, and is the kind of workhorse that fantasy owners should target early to fill a spot in the middle infield.

Merrifield has long been undervalued, which is reflected in his ADP. I'm bullish on Merrifield, and am a bit wary of the impact that Harper's impending departure might have on Turner.

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