Monday, September 27, 2010

Nick Markakis and Arbitrary Standards

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.


Anonymous said...

Agreed! And Buck Showalter (Manager) Has All Of Those Ststs - He Is The Decission-Maker, And Outa Spring Training Next Season Expect A Roster YOU Will Not Recognize #fact - @batspeed29

Steve G. said...

I agree with your take on Markakis. He is looking more and more like a solid, above-average regular vs. an All-Star player. There's no shame in being the RF version of David DeJesus, but like Royals fans, I bet Orioles fans feel a bit disappointed that he's just pretty good as opposed to great.