Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Player Profile - Nick Markakis

Today's player profile will look at Baltimore Orioles 2nd year outfielder Nick Markakis. On the year, Nick has the following line:

.291 Avg
10 HR
64 RBI
59 R
13 SB (in 15 attempts)
.799 OPS
41 BB

So, has he performed when measured up to expectations this year? Has he been in line with, performed worse than expected, or better than expected? Well, the answer is not so let's take a deeper look at his stats.

For a 2nd year player, most fantasy managers & 'experts' will look at his 1st year performance, specifically looking at the later stages of the season, to come up with expectations for the player's sophomore season. It's fair to say that Nick improved just a tad as last season wore on...check out his monthly splits:

.182 Avg
2 HR
.558 OPS

.254 Avg
0 HR
.667 OPS

.338 Avg
0 HR
.803 OPS

.403 Avg
2 HR
10 RBI
.999 OPS

.354 Avg
10 HR
26 RBI
1.140 OPS

.224 Avg
2 HR
.599 OPS

Excluding September, which could have occurred with any young player wearing down after finishing the longest season in their career, he improved every month in OPS, the most telling indicator of success as a hitter. He also had a huge power surge in August, hitting 63% of his HR in ONE month of a 162 game season. He also kept K / plate appearance ratio (13.5%) at a reasonable level the entire season (even his subpar Sep), when combined with his BB ratio / plate appearance (8%) shows that from day one, he has had good patience at the plate. He hit both lefties (.286) and righties (.293) well, and he also played solid right field.

In 2007, some of his trends look similar yet different (does that even make sense?) from his rookie season. Let's take a look at his 2007 monthly splits:

.245 Avg
3 HR
15 RBI
.716 OPS
0 SB

.286 Avg
5 HR
18 RBI
.868 OPS
3 SB

.290 Avg
1 HR
11 RBI
.704 OPS
4 SB

.351 Avg
1 HR
20 RBI
.917 OPS
6 SB

So, his average has increased each month (similar to last year). His RBI's have been relatively steady, his OPS has been solid, but the things that stand out to me are his HR & his SB. At this stage in his career, I think the 10 HR August from last year was an abnormality. He's probably a 3-5 HR / month guy, but I think he'll hit more HR as he matures. He has 1 HR in each of the past two months, but he has found a way to drive in 20 runs in only 25 July games...impressive. He has also discovered this year that he has above average speed & is an intelligent basestealer. I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish the year with 20-25 steals. He has also only been caught 2 times on the year, so he's picking his opportunities wisely. His K / plate appearance (16.5%) & his BB / plate appearance (9%) ratios are both very comparable to last year, so he's kept his plate discipline & eye at the plate - not common in a young hitter. His average against lefties has come down some this year (.258), but he continues to hit solid against RHP (.307).

So, how should people view his performance overall this year? In my opinion, he's proven to be a very good up-and-coming hitter who is still improving & will hit for more power over time. He will likely be a 20-20 contributor before too long, and will likely hit around .300 every season...very impressive for a 23 year old who just last year made the jump from AA ball to the majors. As long as you didn't expect him to hit 30 HR this year, you're likely very pleased with his production. He's the kind of guy that will end up finishing the year with top 20 OF numbers, (he's actually #22 currently on ESPN's player rater) even though he's produced quietly all along the way. Sure, we'd like a few more HR, but they will come over time, so be patient (if you're in a keeper league).

Did you know - Nick attended Young Harris Junior College and batted .439 (98-223) with 21 HR and 92 RBI and stole 19 bases in 20 attempts in 2003; he also had success as a pitcher, going 12-0 with 1 save and a 1.68 ERA in 15 games and led all junior college pitchers with 160 strikeouts. In 2003, he was listed by Baseball America as the 2nd best junior college prospect, behind current Oriole Adam Loewen.

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