Originally written July 26, 2012 on Dempsey's Army:
Mlb_jun_16_1fcf
At long last, Nick Markakis has been made the team's leadoff hitter. I have suggested such a solution several times on this blog but it's hardly a revolutionary idea. Since the collapse of Brian Roberts' performance and body, there is no one else on the team who demonstrates such patience and on base skills as Markakis does. Nolan Reimold was the only player who comes close and he can't stay on the field. But instead, Buck Showalter has favored speed over on base skills and given the majority of leadoff at bats to the like of Endy Chavez and Robert Andino.

Among Oriole leadoff hitters with more than three games in the spot, only Xavier Avery (.309), Nolan Reimold (.328) and Nick Markakis (.411) have OBP's higher than .300.

Let's take a closer look at that .411 mark for Markakis. Splits for Nick based on batting order for 2012:

Split G GS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Batting 1st 12 12 5 1 .353 .411 .451 .862 23
Batting 3rd 50 50 22 37 .256 .333 .452 .786 90

That batting average is aided by a high BABIP (.360) but that's not too much higher than his .321 BABIP for his career. The bottom line is, he just looks more comfortable in a role at the top of the order.

And this is not new. Career splits for Markakis based on batting order:

I Split G BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
Batting 1st 12 .353 .411 .451 .862 .360
Batting 2nd 296 .313 .384 .489 .873 .336
Batting 3rd 545 .281 .355 .438 .794 .310
Batting 4th 52 .273 .314 .417 .731 .282
Batting 8th 22 .456 .538 .588 1.126 .525
Batting 9th 65 .264 .312 .364 .676 .303


The thing that's important is to look at the split between Markakis when he's batting 1st/2nd versus his numbers when he's batting 3rd/4th. He has been quite a bit better at the top of the lineup than when he is in the heart of the lineup.

I am ususally of the opinion that a player is the hitter he is regardless of where he is in the lineup. Frank Thomas had the approach of a #3 hitter and when he was batting cleanup for Toronto late in his career, he was criticized for walking too much and not swinging more. But he was what he was and that wasn't going to change. If you bat Mark Reynolds leadoff, he will take the same approach he always does.

But I think Nick is a player who does change his approach based on his spot in the lineup. He may feel more pressure to be aggressive at the plate in the 3 or 4 hole to drive in runs. But he does not seem to feel that pressure as a 1 or 2 hitter. And his natural talents (working the count, drawing walks, good baserunning) are well suited to that role.

And while all of this seems obvious, it did not appear to be obvious to Buck Showalter. Markakis as lead off hitter may have come too late to make a difference to the Orioles' fading playoff hopes in 2012.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tony Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

Eli on Geno Smith: If fans yell at you, you probably deserve it

49ers players come out in support of Jim Harbaugh

Raiders reportedly expected to make a run at Jon Gruden

FCC unanimously ends sports blackout rule

Michael Phelps arrested for DUI

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Is hiring Mack Brown a real possibility for SMU Mustangs?

NFL: Abdullah should not have been penalized for praying

Belichick: Pats 'didn't play well enough at all' against Chiefs

Astros new manager A.J. Hinch: ‘Goal is to win championships’

Oakland Raiders fire Dennis Allen after 0-4 start

Did Roger Goodell’s bodyguard assault a photographer?

Heckling Knicks fan suing team over ejection

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe: Iggy Azalea has had better career than Swaggy P

College football's post-Week 5 playoff projection

Oregon to don pink-themed unis for breast cancer awareness

Is DeMarco Murray the best RB in the NFL?

WATCH: TBS sends up 'Boom Goes the Dynamite' with promo

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL Awards: Week 4 edition

The best and worst MLB players in September

Tracking demanding career paths of all Top 25 head coaches

NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

Orioles News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Heckling fan sues Knicks over ejection

Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe chooses Iggy over Swaggy P

Raiders to make a run at Jon Gruden?

Is DeMarco Murray the NFL's best RB?

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL Awards: Week 4 edition

Michael Phelps arrested for DUI

NFL admits error on Abdullah penalty

Best, worst MLB players in Sept.

College FB coaches, tough career paths

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.