Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 1/26/12

In the interest of full disclosure, Nick Markakis probably would have ranked a little lower had we known he was undergoing abdominal surgery on January 6, but we made these rankings before the new year. We’ll release our updated re-rankings in mid-February when our first annal draft guide comes out, so if you’ve been worrying about what to get your girlfriend for Valentine’s Day, worry no more!

The good news for Orioles fans, Markakis owners and our current rankings is that, despite offseason surgery, Markakis is projected to be ready by Opening Day. Back in 2008, Markakis hit 20 homers and clubbed 48 doubles. It was his second straight 20-homer, 45-double season, and most figured those doubles would eventually turn into homers as Markakis aged (sound familiar, Billy Butler?). They didn’t, and instead of adding home runs it seems Markakis has seen his best power days come and go. He’s still a fairly balanced fantasy option with his ability to bat over .280, threaten 20 homers and crack double digits in steals, but he doesn’t do any one thing very well and Baltimore’s offense can still only be described as “disappointing.”

Best case scenario: Hunter Pence (PHI)
Similar players: Michael Cuddyer (COL), Seth Smith (COL), Melky Cabrera (SF)
Worst case scenario: Jason Bay (NYM)

Strengths

vs. RHP, second half. Over the last two years Markakis has averaged one homer every 37 at-bats versus right-handed pitchers. That’s not necessarily very good, but it’s a heck of a lot better than his homer rate against lefties. We’ll get to that. For whatever reason, Markakis also flexes his muscle a lot more in the second half than the first half, averaging a homer every 43 at-bats before the All-Star Break for his career and one every 29 at-bats after the break. If you think that’s more a product of his 20-homer power early in his career, rest assured that it’s not. I checked.

Weaknesses

Power vs. LHP. One hundred twenty-six. That’s how many at-bats Markakis goes between homers against left-handed pitchers. Again, 126. He hits lefties for a good average, career .289, but the power is completely nonexistent. If he played a full season against lefties, he’d hit just five home runs. Five. That’s what Elvis Andrus does.

ADP Report (125.9)

Go for it. Markakis at his worst (2010) ranked exactly at this ADP, 126th overall, and I just can’t imagine him finishing a year worse that 79 runs, 12 homers, 60 RBI, seven steals and a .297 average. Even last year, when he didn’t hit 75 runs or RBI, his balance was enough to make him the 99th-ranked player overall and the 37th-ranked outfielder. His outfield rank last year doesn’t exactly jump out at you, but (by my count) at least four to seven of the players ranked ahead of him were starters at other positions, making Markakis a solid third outfielder in 10- and 12-team leagues. Plus, the tier of players directly after him (Angel Pagan, Juan Pierre, Torii Hunter, Carlos Lee, Austin Jackson) are a lot less reliable than the Orioles’ resident Mr. Disappointing.

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