How likely is it that Nick Markakis will get to 3,000 hits?

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.

Season Preview – Nick Markakis

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:

MarkakisWARbyYear

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.

MarkakisRangeFactor

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.

MarkakisFielding%

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.

MarkakisPerAtBat

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.