Which Oriole has the most to prove in 2014?

orioles players standing around one with arm over another

There’s one Oriole who is assumed to be able to do no wrong by many in Baltimore despite regularly underperforming in his tenure in black and orange. Before I reveal who this is, let’s look over the numbers of three Orioles blindly, without saying who they are but by simply looking at the stats.

Player A: .271 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, .356 slugging percentage, 24 doubles, 10 home runs, 59 RBI, 1 stolen base, -0.1 WAR

Player B: .297 batting average, .370 on-base percentage, .436 slugging percentage, 45 doubles, 12 home runs, 60 RBI, 7 stolen bases, 2.2 WAR

Player C: .300 batting average, .362 on-base percentage, .485 slugging percentage, 43 doubles, 23 home runs, 112 RBI, 18 stolen bases, 4.2 WAR

It’s pretty clear that the best player is player C, although player B is no scrub either. Player A is basically replaceable. Any guesses to whom each stat line belongs?

If you guessed that they are all previous seasons that right fielder Nick Markakis has had, than you are right! Player A was Markakis in 2013, while the stats from player B is his 2010 campaign. Player C was Markakis in 2007, his second season in the big leagues.

Markakis used to be one of the young stars in the game after averaging over 45 doubles and 20 homeruns a season from 2007-2009 with an average of exactly 100 RBI.  Baseball-reference.com and ESPN.com even gave Markakis the highest WAR in the entire American League in 2008.  Heading into the 2010 season, he was only 26 years old and looked ready to take the next step into becoming a superstar.

Unfortunately, after that the bottom began to fall out for Markakis. He hasn’t had more than 15 home runs or 73 RBI since then.

He even stopped hitting his doubles. Early in his career he was routinely among the league leaders in doubles but his number of doubles in a season has decreased every year since 2010, from 45 to 31, then down 28 before settling at a career-low 24 last season. His WAR in 2013 was -0.1 which means he performed like a backup.

Markakis made $400,000 when he had the 2007 statistics, $7.1 million with the 2010 statistics, and $15.35 million in 2013 after he signed a 6-year $66.1 million deal in January of 2009. 2014 is the last guaranteed year of his current contract and he will again make $15.35 million. It is especially surprising to see his regression because typically players perform at a higher level as they reach their late twenties.

There is a $17.5 million mutual option for 2015 with a $2 million buyout for 2015, but even if the pre-2010 Markakis resurfaces, the Orioles are unlikely to pay him $17.5 million. If the Orioles are going to be competitive in 2014 Markakis needs to play better, if not for the Orioles, for himself heading into a contract year.

Heading into 2014, Markakis will be on the wrong side of 30, and will be coming off career-lows in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles, home runs, and stolen bases. There is not a strong market for aging corner outfielders with little speed or power, so if Markakis wants to earn another multi-year deal he will need to show he can still play at high level.

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured by Nick Bucher. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nick Bucher

Nick Bucher
Nick is a BTA major and an Economics minor at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Nick also writes for the sports section of the UMBC newspaper, and is a diehard Ravens and Orioles fan. The coolest thing Nick has done was throwing out the First Pitch at an Orioles...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Hot off the street

Section 336 Episode 183: Better In the Pool

The Orioles started the week by getting swept by Boston but they bounced back by sweeping the Diamondbacks. It’s almost as if the Orioles play better against terrible teams than they do against grea...read more

PiR: It’s Going to be a Tense Final Week in Birdland

Reality: Trey Mancini became the 3rd player in MLB history to hit a home run in each of his first three starts. Perception: Mancini has been great so far. He is 4-for-11 with a double and three ho...read more

Monday’s O’s Links: Hoping for More Than Six More O’s Games

While a 5-6 final home stand of the season certainly isn't what anybody had in mind, after the way it unfolded, it's hard to be too disappointed. After the gut-punch that was the four-game sweep at th...read more

Series Notebook: O’s Bounce Back With Sweep of Arizona

In desperate need of a boost in morale - and in the standings - after a demoralizing series versus Boston, the Orioles bounced back in the biggest way possible by sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks ove...read more

#Staturday: Walk-Offs & Special Starts

Happy Staturday Birdland! It was an up-and-down week but fear not, our Orioles still put up some pretty cool stats! Last night Mark Trumbo blasted a walk-off home run to beat the Diamondbacks… an...read more

View More