With all the flux and uncertainty with the Oriole roster this offseason it has been difficult to start any posts examining player performance for 2008. However, I think the safest bet is that Nick Markakis will still be patrolling right field in Camden Yards come April.
First, I present a thing of exquisite beauty. Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Markakis' 2007 hit chart for Oriole Park:
That's what I call hitting to all fields. I am moved. Allow me to shed a tear...(sniff)
What should we expect this year from Markakis? Last year I had hoped that he would slug .500 but he fell just short at .485. Still, hitting .300 with 23 HR and 43 doubles at the age of 23 is nothing to sneeze at.
You should always know your history and I couldn't imagine there would be too many players who posted those kind of numbers at 23. So I searched for all 23 year olds in Major League history who hit at least .290 with at least 40 doubles and 20 homers. The result? Only 16 other players have done it. Unfortunately, Nick is the only one of those players with under .500 SLG. The list includes names like Albert Pujols, Hank Greenberg and Aramis Ramirez. Markakis is never going to be a huge slugger like some of the guys on this list. His power is more line drive type power, which is good, but he's never going to be a guy who routinely hit 35 homers a year. Plus, he's faster than most of the guys on this list.
So I changed the criteria. Must hit .290 with 35 doubles with slugging not to exceed .515 nor be less than .475. Got it? Good.
This list yielded 13 names (including Cal Ripken, Jr.) but I thinned the herd further by including only outfielders. Of the four names left, Markakis compares most favorably to two players:
Hitter Year BA 2B HR OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Enos Slaughter 1939 .320 52 12 .371 .482 .853 122
Ellis Burks 1988 .294 37 25 .367 .481 .848 131
Not too shabby a comparison. Slaughter is a Hall of Famer and Burks was an All-Star caliber player for many years.
So based on Marakis' 2007 stats and projecting them using Burks' and Slaughter's age 24 seasons, here's my guess for Nick's batting line for 2008:
Hitter Year BA 2B HR OBP SLG OPS
Nick Markakis 2008 .309 39 27 .365 .502 .867
I'll take those numbers any day.