2011: The Year of Nick Markakis








Nick Markakis. Every Oriole fan knows him and loves him. But beyond Eutaw Street and Camden Yards, very few baseball fans are familiar with the O’s right fielder. That will all change this year.

The 27 year old Markakis is in his sixth season as an Oriole and finally has help in the O’s order to take the pressure off of him. He’s out of the gate quickly in 2011 with a .429 average through the first four games, coming off a spring campaign where he tore the cover off the ball (.375 average).  With Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero hitting behind him this year, and a healthy Brian Roberts on base in front of him, this promises to be a breakout year for Markakis.

Markakis has been a bright spot for the Orioles in the last five years. A slight power dip last season can be easily explained by the weakness of the lineup around him and the lack of protection. Even with that, his numbers are solid:

                                   Average             HR                  RBI

2010                    .297                    12                     60

2009                    .293                    18                   101

2008                    .306                    20                     87

2007                    .300                    23                   112

2006                    .291                    16                      62

But go deeper and you’ll see even more impressive numbers, like hitting .361 against lefties last year. .361 Versus lefties!! Are you kidding me?! Josh Hamilton only hit .271 against lefties. Ichiro hit .309. Hitting .361 against major league lefties for a full season is ridiculous.

Speaking of Ichiro, he’s been the starting right fielder for the AL in the All Star Game for 4 of 5 of Markakis’ seasons (Guerrero started the other in 2007). But Ichiro is 37 now, and even though he is pumping out 200 hits per year still, I can’t help but thinking the changing of the All Star guard is coming. If not this year, 2012 for sure.

So keep your eyes on Markakis this year O’s fans, and the rest of the country will join you soon enough. A player with all the tools – a great glove, a cannon for an arm, speed on the bases, and a George Brett-type bat (as Orioles broadcaster and icon, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer noted on opening night), he finally has offensive help and will take center stage.

I think his breakout 2011 will look something like this:

Average            .315

Home Runs         21

RBI                         90

Doubles                50

On Base %         .388

Slugging %         .485

An All Star game appearance and the Orioles’ 2011 MVP award.  A big year is coming from Nick Markakis.

What do you think Markakis fans?