Last year, I thought Nick Markakis played the worst defense of his career. Not only did he seem to have lost a step, but he seemed quite tentative and reluctant to give up his body to take a shot at a difficult catch.
At the start of this season, I thought Nick looked ever worse. He misjudged 3-4 balls pretty badly in the first few weeks of the season, and he still seemed kind of slow and tentative.
Somewhere around May 1, somebody flipped a switch. He had four outfield assists in May, and he's been a veritable highlight reel of sliding catches, diving catches, catches while slamming into walls, and other difficult plays. To me, he even seems to be running more fluidly out there than he was earlier in the year.
Let's not forget that Nick had abdominal surgery in the 2011-12 offseason that prevented him from following his normal workout routine, missed June and half of July with a broken wrist, and then had a herniated disk this spring that caused him to miss 3-4 weeks of spring training. So, it's perhaps understandable that he was a little rusty and tentative in the outfield.
In any event, the Markakis I'm seeing now looks like he did in 2011 when he won the Gold Glove. You can argue about whether he deserved that GG, but he's back to playing at that level.
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