Baltimore Orioles: 2014 Season Grades – Outfielders

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Oct 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis dives back to first base safely on a fielder

B+. . Right Field. Baltimore Orioles. NICK MARKAKIS

One of the most gratifying features of the 2014 season was to see the old Nick Markakis return to form. There was a lot of critical talk and commenting by Orioles fans about him having become a very expensive “slap hitter.” There is no doubt that the 2013 season was not a good one.

But after a winter of weights and conditioning – something Markakis had not been able to do for a couple of years because of health events – Nick was ready for 2014 and had a very fine season, including 14 home runs.

Markakis batted .276 on the season, though his average was higher for most of the year. His on base percentage of .342 ranked him 25th in the American League, though the vast majority of those ahead of him were the power hitters and best players in the game—not so much the leadoff types in a lineup.

Markakis is not the prototypical leadoff hitter, but he has thrived in this position over the years. He is the best player on the Orioles for that role for sure. Nick is able to work counts and extend pitchers, though he also looks to get a strike and hit the first pitch. His batting average in the first inning was .342 with an OBP of .377.

As can be seen from the chart, he had a rough month of July and nearly as bad in September. If the season could have ended on August 18th, he would have finished at .297. It does raise the question of durability in aging.

April 100 30 4 0 8 .300 .360
May 127 38 7 3 10 .299 .348
June 116 33 4 4 11 .284 .362
July 104 24 6 1 8 .231 .292
Aug 118 34 5 4 7 .288 .349
Sept 77 18 1 2 6 .234 .337

It would be a travesty and total injustice if Markakis does not win the Gold Glove again this season. He not only makes all the plays he should make, he comes through over and over on diving catches and balls against the wall. Nick did not make an error all season. He has not committed ono since 2012. He has had two in the last four years, and a total of only 18 over his entire career. Mark Reynolds could do that in one month at third base.

Of course the question is if an arrangement can be made for Nick to continue with the Orioles for a few more years. With all the charitable work and his connections to the community, it would seem like it almost surely has to work out somehow. Anything less would be a PR disaster for the Birds, if not a baseball mistake.