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The Birds’ Rock in Right Field
Posted By Alex Van Rees On Aug 19 2011 @ 9:37 am In Baltimore Orioles | No Comments
It seems as though all I have been writing about lately has been the Orioles’ struggles, both offensively and defensively. Well, I’m going to make a 180 and write about someone who doesn’t make the headlines, or receive the attention he deserves: Orioles’ right fielder Nick Markakis.
Although Markakis struggled in the early months of the season and it looked as if this would be his worst season ever hitting-wise, he’s come along lately and is putting together another very solid season for the under-performing Baltimore Orioles. (I’m only going to cover hitting, because we all know his defense is superb and hasn’t faltered)
On the year, Markakis is batting at a .287 clip, which is the lowest of his career, with 13 homeruns already and 57 RBIs, and he’s appeared in 120 of the 121 games on the season. Not to mention, he’s collected 142 hits and scored 56 runs on the year.
Through early June, Markakis was only hitting in the .240s (his average dropped to a very-low .236 average on June 6th), which is extremely uncharacteristic of Markakis. By June 12th, he’d belted only six homeruns and driven in 26 RBI (and six of those RBI came in one game).
I believe his season changed for the better on June 14thagainst the Jays at the Rogers Centre as he collected his sixth three-hit game of the season and shot up his average from .242 to .249 and he never looked back.
Over the rest of the month, Markakis hit safely in each of the remaining 14 games in June and saw his average jump from .249 all the way up to .284. He collected 30 hits, and one four-hit game, and recorded multi-hit games in nine of those 14 contests. Although, he only smashed one more homerun and drove in five more RBI the rest of the month (still lacking power).
Let’s break down his stats month by month.
In 25 games throughout the first month of the season, he batted only .204 with 20 base hits, two homeruns, six RBI and 11 runs scored over 98 at-bats as he collected only four multi-hit games. Obviously, Markakis began the season on the wrong foot and had not hit so low in a single month since April of 2007 when he batted only .182 over the first 22 contests.
Markakis began heating up a little bit in May, although his average at the end of the month still was not where most are accustomed to seeing it as it sat at .249 on May 31st. But, throughout the month, he accumulated 33 base hits over 27 contests (10 multi-hit contests), and hit at a .287 clip.
Although his average was on the rise, he still lacked in the power department. The 27-year old left-hander only doubled up on his homerun total for the year by jolting two more homeruns in May and driving in just 11 in 115 at-bats.
June has been Markakis’ best month of the year as he batted well over .300 at .351; he collected 39 base hits in just 111 at-bats, but only scored eight times. He finished the month with five consecutive multi-hit games and 12 overall in June, and he was batting at a .284 clip.
The story this year for Markakis has been that he gets his base hits, but no power and the trend continued throughout June. He belted only two more homeruns (six on the season by the end of June) and 14 more RBI (31 total) through 77 contests on the year.
Markakis cooled off a bit in July, but still posted respectable numbers; he batted .287 in the month as he recorded 31 hits through all 27 of the Birds’ contests. He put together an 11 game hit streak in the month and also recorded his first five-hit game of the season against Atlanta at the beginning of the month. By the end of the month, his average sat at .285, which is a bit lower still than fans and Orioles’ critics are accustomed to seeing out of him.
Although he didn’t put up staggering power numbers, his homerun total this month doubled the homeruns he had hit in June as he knocked four out of the park, although he drove in one less run than in the previous month (13).
This month has been a breakout month power-wise for Markakis as he’s already crushed three homeruns and knocked in 13 RBI (he just needs one more RBI to tie his monthly-high this season).
He’s batting .302 (only the second month with an above .300 batting average) with 19 hits in just 16 games. Over his last 14 contests, he’s batting .321 (18 for 56) with all of his homeruns and RBI coming over that stretch.
So, is this where you thought Markakis’ statistics would be by this time of the year? If he continues on the same pace, he’s projected to belt 17 homeruns, drive in 76 RBI, collect 190 base hits and hit at a .287 clip over 663 at-bats this season.
Let’s take a quick look at his stats from season to season with the Birds.
As a rookie, Markakis jolted 16 homeruns and drove in 62 RBI for the Birds as a first-year right fielder for a struggling ballclub. He batted at a .291 clip and through 147 games (491 at-bats) as he collected 143 base hits and 25 doubles. Markakis finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting that season.
In his second year with the club, he showed a glimpse of the power that he possesses as he knocked a career-high 23 homeruns out of the park and drove in over 100 RBI for the first time in his young career as he finished with 112 on the year. Power-wise, this was Markakis’ best season to date.
Not to mention, Markakis collected a career-high with 191 hits on the year over 161 games (637 at-bats) with 43 doubles and finished the season batting at an even .300.
Markakis batted even better his next season as he finished the ’08 campaign batting .306 as he collected nine less hits than in ’ 07, but he played in four fewer games (157) and accumulated 42 fewer at-bats (595).
Markakis belted 20 homeruns, which is only three fewer than his career year, but he drove in 25 fewer runners (87 on the year). Although his power numbers declined, he still put together a very respectable season for the Birds.
In 2009, Markakis actually appeared in a career-high 161 games and accumulated a career-high 642 at-bats on the season, but he didn’t enjoy as much success as the previous two seasons. He collected 188 base hits on the year, with a season-high 48 doubles and finished the year batting .293- his lowest since his rookie season.
Although his homerun numbers continue to fall (23 in ’07, 20 in ’08) as he knocked just 18 over the wall, his RBI stats jumped back up to over 100 as he drove 101 on the year- second time in his career with 100 RBI, and the last as well.
Last season, his power numbers really dropped as he belted only 12 homeruns the entire season and drove in only 60 RBI (he already has more homeruns, and only three fewer RBI this season)!
Markakis again collected more than 180 hits in the year for the fourth time in a row (187) and he batted at a higher clip than the previous season at .297. Although, for the first time since his rookie campaign, he failed to score more than 90 runs (79), but continued to rack up doubles as he recorded 45, which was the fourth consecutive year with more than 40.
So, entering this season, I was expecting Markakis to hit between 15 and 20 homeruns, because I had a hunch last season was just an off-year in the power department, drive in between 70 and 80, collect around 180 hits and finish the year hitting around .300.
With a strong last month and a half of the season, I think Markakis can raise his average to around .300 and easily crush at least three to four more homeruns and hopefully drive in around 20 more RBI (which would put him at 77 for the year).
The only stat that Markakis will have trouble attaining is more than 40 doubles, as he sits at only 21 on the year, but I think we can all live with that as long as he continues to collect hits and maintains around a .300 average.
I think Markakis is one of the most underrated right fielders in all of baseball, and mostly to blame is the organization he plays for. He continuously puts up strong numbers year in and year out, and deserves more attention than he receives.
Follow me on twitter: Alex_VanRees
(Stats were calculated prior to Friday night’s game against the Angels)
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