HHP: For all of the talk of Markakis disappointing, he could actually be in for quite a year
Here are Nick's slash lines through 40 games so far in his career, compared to his final line.
40 G: .213/.309/.315/.624
40 G: .258/.331/.432/.764
40 G: .266/.397/.441/.837
40 G: .318/.395/.519/.915
40 G: .296/.390/.434/.824
40 G: .248/.315/.345/.661
40 G: .258/.337/.459/.796
Average differential between 40 G point and final: + .047 OPS
Add .047 OPS to Markakis' current OPS and you get .843. That would be his 3rd best total in his career and his best since 2008, his career best at .897. Still, I'm sure most would take it.
But here's some notes that suggest it could be higher:
1) He has his highest ISO (.201) this year, tied with the largely anomalous 2009 campaign.
2) In his 2 best seasons to date (2008, 2009) he had a very similar BA .258/.266 but was slugging less (.432, .441).
3) The following note will be less persuasive among the steadfast stat guys but I believe it's well worth making nonetheless: arguably, this is the first time Nick will likely have something to play for throughout the season since 2006, 2007, 2008, when he was playing to establish himself and a contract.
(2009 record through 40 G: 16-24/ record at All-Star: 40-48/ Final: 64-98
2010 record through 40 G: 13-27/ record at All-Star: 29-59/ Final:66-96
2011 record through 40 G: 19-21/ record at All-Star: 36-52/ Final: 69-93)
Obviously, #3 is a bit mitigated by the fact there's obviously some inter-causality in Nick's performance and the performance of the team, but one wonders if those numbers would be better if he were either 1) playing for a contract or 2)playing on a team which has something to play for. Take 2009, which looks so anomalous, but maybe wouldn't look so if the team weren't 54-78 on Sept. 1, with virtually nothing to play for, when Nick entered with an .836 OPS, only to finish at .801.
Like I said, point 3 is more anecdotal, but I think anyone who has played competitive sports can see what I'm getting at with the psychological angle of possible performance drop when there is very little at stake.
Particularly unfortunate for Nick, who has a LOT of data to suggest he is a much better second-half player (2009 is especially misleading with the way I've presented it here, because his OPS at G50 was already down to .854 and at G81 he was .803, so even then he was nearly the same player in each half, as opposed to other years where there is--on the average--a definite positive statistical trend as the year goes on), which has just happened to be the time when the Orioles have basically been guaranteed to be playing for nothing over his 6 years with the team.
Nick's decline since 2008 has been attributed to a lot of things, but I haven't heard it attributed to perhaps the most obvious: he got a big contract before the 2009 season, and the team hasn't been at all competitive in any of those seasons until now.
Still, even forgetting my personal qualification to these stats, his high ISO and SLG at this point in comparison to other years suggests he could be in for a very decent year. A 2007 like OPS seems very feasible.
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