Feb. 14, 2018
Nick Markakis: The Enigma
2017 Statistics: 593 AB, .275/.354/.384, 8 HR, 75 RBI.
Selected 7th overall by the Orioles in the 2003 MLB draft after spurning the Reds in both 2001 and 2002, Markakis quickly rose through the minor league ranks in Baltimore's system before his major league debut in 2006.
There was once a time in Markakis' career when he was a power hitter - He swatted 23 round-trippers in 2007 and posted totals of 45 doubles, 18 home runs, and 101 RBI to go along with a .293 average in 2009. After that, his power had mysteriously vanished. Nick still had proven to be a rock-solid player throughout the duration of his time with the O's, helping the team reach the playoffs in 2012 and 2014 and winning gold glove in 2011 and 2014 while manning right field.
Markakis then signed a four year contract worth $44 million with the Atlanta Braves in December of 2014, the team he grew up rooting for as a kid. Though he hit just three home runs in a full slate of at-bats in 2015, he cumulatively posted a .358 on-base percentage the last three seasons to go along with at least 38 doubles in each season and in my humble opinion, is one of the more underrated pure hitters in baseball.
As a Cubs fan, I would have loved to see us trade for him this winter as a possible leadoff candidate, but the fact that Atlanta had been able to find a taker for Matt Kemp's contract had pretty much killed that for the time being. Still, as Markakis enters a contract year at age 34, he ought to be an interesting name in the trade market come July.