Since 2006, the Orioles have had only one player who has made the vast majority of starts at one position over that eight year stretch. That position is right field, and the player is Nick Markakis.
Markakis has become a fan favorite, particularly with the female Oriole fans. But after 2013, Markakis’ worst year as an Oriole, some people are wondering if he should still automatically be the starter.
Some fans wanted Markakis riding the pine last season, or dropped to the bottom of the batting order. Markakis didn’t pass the eye test, often getting out in key situations and generally struggling throughout the year. A check of the numbers is even more alarming.
Markakis’ batting average was over 20 points below his career average, his on-base percentage was over 30 points lower, and his OPS was a shocking 115 points lower. His 10 HRs was lower than his number in 2012, when he only played in 104 games due to injury. In 2013, Markakis played in 160 games. In fact, other than 2012, Markakis has played over 145 games in every season since breaking into the big leagues in 2006.
So while the numbers don’t look good, there could be a reason for that. Markakis had a very different offseason in 2012 than usual after having surgery to repair a broken hamate bone, and had to rehab in the offseason.
Coming off of a healthy season in 2013, Markakis will have a healthy offseason to get ready for the 2014 season.
But, his contract is one that hurts the Orioles. $15 million is a lot of money to pay a guy who averages 17 HR, 81 RBIs and a .292 average.
Now his defense is second to none in right field, winning a Gold Glove in 2011 and also being snubbed several other times.
His WAR averages out to be starter-caliber, but is that enough for a right fielder in the AL East?
Is Markakis worth the money? Should the Orioles continue to keep number 21 as the consistent part of their lineup, or should they consider trying to trade him? Is there even a market for him?
A lot of tough questions surrounding a fan favorite, but on a team that has to compete against the best in baseball each year, it has to be asked.