Today we dive back into the statistics waters of BaseballReference.com to see what we might expect from Nick Markakis this season. There’s some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with his various WAR values:
As Markakis enters his age-32 season, we see that the overall trends are not positive. He has been a worse than average overall defender since 2009, and there seems no reason to believe he will improve. His offensive and overall WAR have bounced back from his injury-shortened 2013 season with the Orioles, but there is little reason to believe his overall WAR will go much above the expected 2.5 WAR or so. Not terrible for a $11 million/year salary, but there isn’t much hope for long-term improvement. Let’s turn to his Right Field-specific defensive numbers.
As would be expected of a 32 year-old, his range factor is declining, but is still quite comparable to the league’s range factor.
As Braves fans have come to appreciate, Markakis simply doesn’t make errors in Right Field. He is in the right place, he doesn’t drop the ball, and he throws the ball to the right place. Let’s look at the traditional offensive numbers.
Not surprisingly, his batting average and walk rate have stayed fairly consistent with a slight upswing in both last year. His home runs were way down, with many commentators blaming that on his recovery from neck surgery during the offseason before the 2015 season. What we came to expect from many good hitters is a trade-off between batting average and home runs. We might expect that either the home runs will improve and the batting average falls slightly, or the home run numbers continue to be weak, but the batting average continues to be high. In other words, the blue and red lines should either converge or diverge. Either should keep Markakis with a high-level overall offensive performance.