Nick Markakis had a very Nick Markakis season for the Atlanta Braves again in 2017. Will it be his last in a Braves uniform?
What were the expectations?
Nick Markakis signed with the Braves in 2014 on a four-year deal through his age-34 season totaling $44,000,000. In his time with the Braves so far Markakis has been largely average at hitting, which combines with some below-average defense and baserunning to render him a below-average player overall. During his time with the Orioles, Markakis had never posted a single-digit home run total. But, in his first campaign with Atlanta in 2015 Markakis posted just 3 home runs in 156 games played. After posting two straight years with sub 100 wRC+ totals there was not much expected from Markakis in 2017 as he nears the end of his career.
Kudos to ZiPS for almost getting Markakis’s projections spot on but that’s who he is, Mr. Consistent. Nick had the classic season of an aging veteran and did about exactly what everyone expected him to do. To start out the season Markakis posted some decent numbers. From Opening Day to July 1st, he put up a line of .289/.368/.388 and a 101 wRC+. It appears Markakis just wore down some: to close the season he posted a line of .259/.337/.382 (89 wRC+). The only real difference between the two halves was his BABIP, driven partly by a more fly ball-oriented approach in the latter.
Once again, in aggregate, Markakis had an overall average-ish (slightly below) offensive season but continued to decline a bit further, with a 106-98-95 wRC+ slide during his Braves tenure. He also didn’t really contribute anything defensively, posting his second below-average defensive mark in a corner per both UZR and DRS in three Braves seasons (though, by UZR, he was essentially average, with a -0.2 UZR/150).
The brightest spot for Markakis in 2017 was when he got to his 2000th career hit on August 3rd.
For Nick Markakis 2018 could be a year where he suits up for a different team than the Braves. With super-prospect Ronald Acuna breaking the door down to Atlanta with his stellar play, it would seem Markakis is one of the odd men out. If he isn’t moved, he could be relegated to a bench role as an insurance policy for the injury-prone Matt Kemp, should he also remain a Brave. Either way, even less is expected of Markakis in 2018 than there was expected in 2017. 2018 also marks the final season on his contract with the Braves only responsible for $11,000,000 remaining.
Markakis will probably put up another wRC+ in the 90s and play some unremarkable-to-blah corner outfield defense in 2018. It’s essentially what he’s done the last two years, and he’s nothing if not consistent.