Last night, Nick Markakis became the latest major leaguer to accumulate 2,000 hits. He’s 10th on the active list as of today. The nine ahead of him are:
1. Ichiro Suzuki (3060)
2. Adrian Beltre (3002)
3. Albert Pujols (2918)
4. Carlos Beltran (2699)
5. Miguel Cabrera (2608)
6. Robinson Cano (2318)
7. Matt Holliday (2067)
8. Jose Reyes (2052)
9. Victor Martinez (2022)
Given that he’s 33 years old, I’m wondering what his chances are at getting to 3,000.
Let’s start with the current set of batting average and plate appearances for major leaguers as of last year. We’ll restrict it to players with at least 501 Plate Appearances, to give us a good read on those who were healthy everyday players, and would qualify for awards like the batting title.
Looks like something close to a normal distribution to me, with a big drop off in Plate Appearances at around 35. How about Batting Average?
This is all of the Batting Averages for 2016 players with at least 501 plate appearances. The blue line is a simple quadratic regression. Note how the line goes up for younger and older players. We would assume this is because younger players need to be able to hit to get on the field, and older players (who can’t run, or play defense as well) need to hit to stay on the field. In the newest installment of “Name That Outlier!”, can you guess who that dot on the right is, the 40 year-old who hit over .300 last year? ….
It was David Ortiz.
So, without going into the probability calculations, we can see that while his average will likely stay where it is, his availability will probably start a deep decline in the next 2-3 years. As it is, he is second in career fielding percentage as a right fielder. He’s only made 6 errors in his nearly 3 years with the Braves. While his range (already below league average for right fielders) may go down, I can’t think of a good reason he’ll become more error prone. In any case, the Braves has been paying him $11 million per year for just under 2.0 WAR per year, and he’s under contract through the end of next year. Fangraphs, which uses a different calculation for WAR, uses the price of Free Agents and player’s WAR to calculate a player’s monetary value. They say that Markakis was worth $11.8 million in 2015 (slightly higher than his actual salary), $9.1 million in 2016 (lower than his salary), and has been worth only $700,000 so far this year due to reduced defensive range and power. Check out his Fangraphs page here.