I'm not above beating a dead horse. This blurb from Phil Rogers column in the Baltimore Sun just got to me...
The Orioles' Nick Markakis remains one of the best hitters no one notices. He entered the weekend with 43 doubles, making him only the third player in history to have four consecutive seasons of at least 43 doubles. The other two were Joe Medwick and Tris Speaker.
OK. On the surface that seems kind of impressive, accomplishing something that only two other players have done in the entire history of baseball and keeping some company with Hall of Famers while you're at it.
But a closer look shows otherwise. A cumulative comparison of the four consecutive seasons of 43 doubles or more for each player:
AVG OBP SLG OPS+ 2B HR Markakis '07-'10 .297 .370 .462 120 180 71 Speaker '20-'23 .377 .467 .578 169 209 39 Medwick '35-'38 .351 .390 .583 158 213 93
And their numbers through the end of their age 26 season:
AVG OBP SLG OPS+ 2B HR Markakis .296 .367 .460 118 205 87 Speaker .340 .413 .494 168 216 39 Medwick .338 .373 .560 147 305 131
You can make the case that Markakis is an underrated hitter but not because he hit a bunch of doubles. Speaker and Medwick were on another level when it came to hitting. Markakis brings one aspect of their game but is not the superior hitter that these guys were. Comparing Nick to those guys because of some arbitrary numbers is misguided and an incomplete assessment of his abilities.
I think there is an "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome when it comes to local writers and fans assessing Nick's true worth. He certainly was one of the more underrated hitters in the game but coming off what is arguably his weakest offensive season, he has become overrated instead. Decent hitter. Not a great one.