It's like the Sistine Chapel. It's gorgeous.
Last offseason, I compared Markakis favorably to Enos Slaughter and Ellis Burks and used those players' age 24 seasons to predict Nick's 2008. Here is that projection compared to the actual stats:
BA 2B HR OBP SLG OPS
Markakis Predicted .309 39 27 .365 .502 .867
Markakis Actual .306 48 20 .406 .491 .897
I thought a few more of those doubles would go over the fence and I didn't anticipate Markakis' batting eye to improve so much in one season but the projection was pretty spot on.
As the season went on, I became more convinced that Markakis is the second coming of Enos Slaughter. Both are/were lefties, both play(ed) rightfield and both are/were very good fielders with great arms, at least when young.
Their bats are very similar as well:
Age 22 Age 23 Age 24
Markakis 106 121 134
Slaughter 105 122 133
Slaughter's OPS+ at age 25 was 141. How do we get Markakis there? I'll say:
BA 2B HR OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Markakis '09 .315 40 29 .415 .520 .935 141
Add to that his Gold Glove caliber defense in right (he should have won a Gold Glove last year), the Orioles would do well to sign him to a long term contract before Spring Training. It will only get harder once his breakout 2009 is under way.