Friday, September 10, 2010

What the Hell is Wrong with Nick Markakis?

One thing has been lost in all this winning of late is the fact that, very quietly, Nick Markakis is having a pretty poor year.

Since his age 24 season, here's some of his rate stats:

              AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   ISO   BABIP
2008         .306  .406  .491  .897  .185   .350
2009         .293  .347  .453  .801  .160   .317
2010         .289  .367  .423  .790  .134   .325

As many of you know, after that 2008 season, I was predicting big things for Nick. Here was a guy who nearly OPSed .900 at the age of 24 and was heading into his mid and late 20's, what are typically considered a player's peak season. But he has regressed. A lot.

The power numbers are the most striking. I was never a guy who thought Markakis would be a guy who would hit 30 homers a season but I did expect 20-25 with a bunch of doubles. With the crazy onbase skills, that was a guy who could have been a borderline star level rightfielder.

Instead, he is OPSing .790 and even in this season with reduced offensive levels, is a mediocrity at the plate among baseball's rightfielders.I never thought I'd see the day when Nick would be posting a sub-.800 OPS for a season but he's well on his way. On top of that, he has been below average in the field the last two season when examined with various metrics. What the hell happened?

The walk rate is still in the double digits so that's fine. But he has lost points on his batting average and taken a plummet with his power. His BABIP is at career norms so he is not unlucky.

But the big drop is his power. While he's hit a few more groundballs than normal this year, his HR/F% stands at 5.3%, down from 8.0% in 2009 and down from double digits during his first three seasons. With fewer homers, his ISO is down for three straight years, as well as his slugging.

Nick's power is gone, folks. I'm not sure why but he's now clearly a punch-and-judy type with some gap power. He's not a bad player but he's certainly not great one.


Ross said...

Daniel Moroz commented on the utter lack of power in late may:

If you look at those spray charts its pretty startling. He basically never goes to right field with the ball anymore where a lot of his power used to be. I haven't looked at any more recent spray charts than these so it could be a sample size issue. However, I have kept this in mind as I watch the games this season and I feel like June - Sept. has been fairly consistent with what we saw early.

The Oriole Way said...

I guess "poor" is a relative term; poor compared to the expectations set, certainly, but his numbers make him a roughly league average right fielder.

Avg AL RF: .276/.351/.441

So Nick has a bit less pop and a bit more OBP. Given the uncertainty surrounding defensive metrics, I think it's fair to call him an average fielder. Which makes him a league average player. Not at all what we had hoped for, but it seems a bit harsh to call that "poor."

Bani pe net said...

is he crazy or something??

Brooklyn O's Fan said...

I personally think almost all of this can be attributed to an almost total lack of protection in the lineup. Nick has been asked to hit 2nd, 3rd, and cleanup at various points of the last couple of seasons, never takes a day off, and made wholly responsible for being the one player in the lineup who can "do it all." Opposing pitchers know they can strike out Jonesy, Scott, and Wigginton and are willing to risk the occasional home run in exchange, since the Orioles overall offense has been so weak. If we bring in the kind of impact slugger we need to this off-season--a Dunn or a Prince Fielder--you'll see Markakis have a Ryan Zimmerman-like rebirth, I guarantee it.

Anonymous said...

Your assessment is spot on!! The Orioles were suppose to build a team around this guy, but I just don't see it happening. Right now I would say he's at best an average RF with a better than average arm. So what!!

DempseysArmy said...

Ross: Yes, I saw Dan's breakdown. I'd like to see how it looks now but I would imagine, like you, that it is similiar. Still thought if Nick was trading power for contact that he could hit .320 or so. Not the case.

Oriole Way: Perhaps in terms of expectations they were unfair. But based on the trends early in his career they weren't crazy. Did we reaqlly think we'd be seeing sub-.800 OPS seasons from Nick at this point?

Brooklyn: There may be a little to that and I do wish they'd leave him in the 2 spot. For whatever reason, he hits much better there and the position suits his skills. I believe he changes his approach when they drop him in the order.