Its been nearly a week since Nick Markakis has made his (somewhat) triumphant return to the Braves lineup. And though he just been back for only a few games, Markakis has already enjoyed a few memorable moments at a time when everyone needs them.
NICK MARKAKIS WALK OFF BOMB + SOCIALLY DISTANT CELEBRATION pic.twitter.com/dReBqv4Des— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) August 7, 2020
Beyond his late inning heroics in his first start back, Markakis also reached a career milestone with his 500th career double. These significant plate appearances have led to some highly flattering endorsements from names such as Brian Snitker and Chip Carey. Obviously, Markakis is certainly held in high regard by his teammates and others in the Braves organization. However, his production and role with the team has been a very polarizing source of discussion for many in Braves country over the past few years.
Yet, despite how you feel about him as a player, with Markakis now in his sixth season in Atlanta, it seems that a valid question can be asked:
How exclusive of a Brave has Markakis become?
A surprise to many at the time, Nick Markakis was signed to a four year, $44 million dollar deal before the 2015 season. A reason as to why the signing may have been labeled unexpected is because Markakis, an outfielder in his 30’s coming off of neck surgery, was given a long term commitment by Atlanta the same offseason in which the Braves traded away Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. Whether or not it made sense, Markakis was viewed as an pivotal part of the Braves lineup for the next several years when he was signed.
Since that time, Markakis has compiled 3,237 plate appearances in a Braves uniform. He is one of 52 players to have walked up to the plate at least 3000 times representing our beloved team in franchise history. He has produced a .284/.359/.404 triple slash over that time frame, good for a .762 OPS.
When compared to the rest of this list of present and former Braves, the good and not so good aspects of Markakis’s skill set stand out. He is 13th in both BB% and K%, 16% in OBP, and 19th in batting average. These numbers certainly validate Markakis’s admirable patience and discipline at the plate, and show it certainly stands out among his past and present peers in franchise history.
However, when it comes to his production when he makes contact, the numbers are not as favorable for Markakis. His .762 OPS is 25th in the aforementioned group. His 103 wRC+ and .329 wOBA marks rank 30th and 34th, respectively, while is .119 ISO measure ranks 27th.
When compared to past and former Braves players, a trend regarding Markakis appears to emerge that is similar to how he has compared to the rest of the Major Leagues during his career. Though he certainly is above average when it comes to patience, discipline and making contact, he is also very average to slightly below average when it comes to the quality of his contact.
When looking at his overall production during his time as a Brave, it is hard to view Markakis as one of the best Braves hitters ever. Yet, another perspective that shines a bit more positive light on his time in Atlanta is the one trait that likely makes Markakis overrated or underrated in the eyes of many: his consistency.
Between 2015-2018, Markakis became just the third Brave to have four straight seasons with at least 670 plate appearances, joining Dale Murphy and Chipper Jones. Over that same time frame, Markakis became one of only eight Braves to have four consecutive seasons in which he had 160 or more hits. As Kris Willis mentioned in the piece above regarding Markakis’s 500th double, he also is the first Brave to ever have four straight seasons of 35 or more doubles.
In fact, Markakis had four straight seasons of at least 160 or more hits, 65 or more walks, and 35 or more doubles. Only Jones had more total seasons as a Brave achieving those numbers, with five. However, Markakis is the only Brave ever to have reached those marks in four straight years.
In terms of honors, Markakis’s 2018 season is quite rare in franchise history on its own. Markakis joined Dale Murphy and Andruw Jones as the only Braves to earn a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and All-Star selection in the same season since 1980 (first year of Silver Slugger Award). It was the first and only All-Star selection and Silver Slugger honor Markakis has won in his career.
Another relevant aspect of Markakis’s production as a Braves is that it has been rarely seen in the recent history of the team. His 814 hits in Atlanta are the eighth most by a Braves player since 1990. He also is one of only six Braves with 800 hits and 185 doubles over that time frame. Other names over that time frame may have certainly been more notable, but only a few have been as consistently productive as Markakis.
Overall, it is unlikely anyone will ever say Markakis is one of the best Braves to ever play the game. The significance of his stats as a Brave are mainly due to longevity, health, and quantity instead of quality. Markakis has amassed 6.2 fWAR during his time as a Brave, which currently ranks 116th in the history of the franchise.
However, the consistency Markakis has shown, especially during the first contract he signed with Atlanta, is a stretch that has been rarely seen in the history of the franchise. Though he will likely remain polarizing, and his role and utilization will be questioned (and rightfully so) at times, Markakis has certainly made his mark as a Brave.