While Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies saw his 28-game hit streak come to an end Friday night, Nick Markakis extended his to 16 thanks to a three-hit effort against the Houston Astros. With a single in his first at-bat on Saturday, it reached 17 games. With a single in his second on Sunday, it has reached 18 and is now the longest current hitting streak in Major League Baseball.
As is generally the case with Markakis, a lot of what he does often goes unnoticed because he isn’t particularly flashy. He just shows up to the ballpark each day and does his job. In fact, if at some point during the streak you stopped to say, “Wait, it’s up to how many games now?” you probably wouldn’t be alone.
Markakis last went hitless against the Boston Red Sox on April 20. In the 17 games since (through Saturday), he’s racked up 25 hits and posted a .357/.423/.486 slash line with three doubles, two home runs, and eight walks. Markakis has had multiple hits in seven of the games and has raised his season batting line from .278/.321/.347 to .317/.372/.415 during the process.
As you can probably imagine, Markakis is handling many types of pitches he sees well right now. According to the indispensible Brooks Baseball, here are the pitches Nick has seen most frequently during this streak.
In 2011, Markakis put together the longest hit streak of his career, which last 19 games and spanned from June 8 through June 30.
For comparison purposes, here are the results and averages for the first 17 games of that streak (through June 28).
This time around, PITCH f/x shows us a noticeable difference in Nick’s plate discipline. He’s seeing fewer strikes during the current streak, just under 50% of the total pitches he’s seen. In 2011, 53% of the pitches he saw were in the zone.
As a result, Markakis is now swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone, 25.2% compared to 19.7% in 2011 and has seen his contact rate on those pitches drop from 93.3% to 84.6%.
However, in 2014, he’s been a bit more selective with pitches that have been strikes, leaving the bat on his shoulder 5% more than before.
In looking at Markakis’ career discipline numbers, the current streak is a bit more reflective of the type of hitter we’ve become accustomed to watching since 2007.
If you were going to bet on the probability of this streak equaling or lasting longer than the 19-game one you might be inclined to say yes, based on the fact that Markakis’ approach at the plate hasn’t been completely out of the norm for him.
Of course, I probably jinxed him by writing this. So, you can blame me if the streak ends Monday.
photo: Craig Landefeld