2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis came into 2019 having just posted his first 2+ WAR season since joining the Braves in 2015. The 35 year old was not able to duplicate it.

Nick put up a typical Markakis line of .285/.356/.420, but his season was interrupted near the end of July by a fractured left wrist, courtesy of Philadelphia’s Cole Irvin. He would not return until mid-September, and was limited to 116 games. All 9 of his home runs came before the injury. If those WAR calculations seem right to you, Markakis has been a borderline-minus major league regular almost the entirety of his Braves career.

The Braves have re-signed Nick for the 2020 season. Although he had not missed a game prior to the wrist injury, and played in all 162 games in 2018, the expectation is that Markakis will be a platoon player in 2020. In 2019, Nick put up a .298/.371/.446 line in 356 plate appearances against right handed pitchers, and all 9 of the homers. Contrast this with a .245/.310/.343 line against lefties, in 113 2019 PA’s.

Nick has had a long, solid career, amassing 2355 hits so far, with a .288 batting average. There’s not much more that needs to be said about his career than his list of most similar batters reveals.

  1. Jose Cruz (891.7)
  2. B.J. Surhoff (889.3)
  3. Cesar Cedeno (881.6)
  4. Amos Otis (880.8)
  5. Mark Grace (879.6)
  6. Keith Hernandez (872.7)
  7. Hal McRae (869.5)
  8. Buddy Bell (867.0)
  9. Marquis Grissom (867.0)
  10. Wally Joyner (865.0)

Markakis is a gamble for 2020; signed at a reasonable price, but tying up a roster spot at age 36, and coming off of a major wrist injury. Still, the Braves have won consecutive NL East titles with him. They’ll have a chance to see if they can pull it off again.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

17 thoughts on “2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Nick Markakis”

  1. Judging every player by their WAR number indicates the user has very little knowledge of the game of baseball. In addition it is pure laziness. I expect better.

  2. @2

    Evaluating Markakis absolutely should take into consideration his speed and defense contribution, which are both below average. WAR is attempting to do that, and it’s probably the most accurate assessment of Nick. The real lazy ways would be either looking at simply his triple slash or his veteran intangibles to crown him an above average player when all the data suggests otherwise.

    I say this as a big Markakis fan that is ok with him getting 60-70% of the PAs against RHPs next year in LF with a quality defensive replacement coming in in the 7th inning.

  3. Ed, thanks for reading. We value any form of commentary except for outright insults to our writers.

  4. It’s funny, but I actually like Nick as a player. I also think veteran leadership has value. If he’s legitimately deployed as a platoon OF, and is placed lower in the order; I’m good with another year of Kakes, because I know they can’t sign all-stars everywhere.

    What’s maddening is Snitker’s belief that Nick is an everyday, fifth place hitter. That’s why part of me wanted Anthopolous to step in and take the toy away from Snit.

  5. I always caution that WAR is a calculation whenever I use it. I think it is good for some things and overrated for others. The longer the period and the more consistent the results, the more respect I have for it. In this case we are talking about 4 out of 5 seasons.

    I’m proposing that there is evidence that Nick’s ceiling is low, and I am concerned at his age about how quickly and how well he will heal from his wrist injury. I feel like we could have given that spot to someone with more upside at little risk.

    The good news is that we will all be able to see what happens come September.

  6. @8 Just so. Take a Calhoun or a Dickerson, for example. Either could be had for something like Markakis money (ok, I’m thinking $6M not $4M, but still). And Joyce could be had for much less.

    As Ryan mentioned in the last thread, there are a lot of options in the OF. I agree with him (and you) that the Braves should focus resources on positions of more scarcity – star 3B, TOR, and C.

  7. With regards to everyone’s concerns about the cost of Smith, I’d answer that this is the same deal Zack Britton (another lefty and 30yo last year) got a year ago and produced his best season since his sub-1.00 ERA season without being a closer for the Yanks at all. I would have gladly had AA sign Britton for this same deal and install him as our closer.

    My opinion is that both are too high for a high leverage reliever but that is where the market is.

  8. I like the Smith signing and we’ll need a veteran reliever in ’21 after Melancon and Greene leave as free agents. By then, I imagine we’ll have a few more failed starters with big arms in the bullpen and we’ll need someone with experience.

  9. Even that list of most similar batters is kind to NIck. Cruz and Cedeno’s numbers were hurt by the Astrodome and were better hitters than Nick. Otis was a pretty good defensive CF, so had a good bit more defensive value. WAR isn’t perfect, but it has Cruz & Cedeno in the low 50s and Otis in the 40s, compared to Nick’s 33.

    Also, 891 seems like a low similarity score for hit most similar comp. I’m surprised there aren’t more corner outfielders with numbers more similar to Nick’s – decent hitters for average who hit a lot of doubles and a few homers in fairly long careers. Maybe it’s because that sort of player several decades ago would hit more triples, or would have similar-shaped numbers but inflated or deflated by the era.

  10. Waters for Lindor is close by itself. Adding someone like Touki would be more than enough.

    This is where flat WAR/$ comparisons tend to break down however as the extra wns Lindor brings over the next 2 years should be more important to BOTH teams than the future star potential of the Braves prospects. The Braves should overpay in a situation like this, but adding Wright and Dansby is just too much. Maybe change to Touki, Dansby and Wright? That is close on the trade simulator.

  11. @14 – Good point about the park effects. If I remember correctly, the old Royals stadium was not a home run stadium either. Interesting to notice that most of these guys are from the ’70’s and ’80’s.

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