In what has become tradition, the Nick Markakis' hit chart from the 2010 season. The light blue dots are singles, next shade darker are doubles, etc. (image courtesy of katron.org):
It's always a thing of beauty. He hits to all fields and still hits with a bit of power.
I have given up on waiting for Markakis to blossom into a star but he's still a very good hitter. And although he's never developed the power I had hoped, he still strokes a ton of doubles:
Rk Player 2B Age 1 Matt Holliday 217 26-30 2 Robinson Cano 206 23-27 3 Nick Markakis 206 22-26 4 Miguel Cabrera 203 23-27 5 Albert Pujols 199 26-30
And while I don't think the extra protection in the lineup will help him that much, there is one thing it is likely to do...keep him in the #2 spot in the order. For his career:
Split G GS PA BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Batting 2nd 186 184 846 94 122 .324 .400 .530 .930 Batting 3rd 445 443 1966 199 289 .286 .360 .444 .804
It probably doesn't mean much. But I've watched Nick hit 2nd and also further down in the order. He seems more patient and willing to wait for his pitch or take the walk. When he bats lower, he seems to press a bit to try to drive in runs. Some guys alter their philosophy a bit based on where they hit in the order and I think Nick's one of those guys. If things turn out the way the should, Markakis may hit second for most of the season, a spot in the order that complements his strengths as a hitter. And maybe, just maybe, that's the thing that will help him take a step forward in his career.
Or this may all be wishful thinking.
I still can't believe that Markakis is an .800 OPS level hitter. I think (or hope) he will OPS closer to .850 than .800 this season.