Nick Markakis is coming off the most disappointing year of his career in 2013. He batted .271 with 10 home runs and only 59 RBIs. At times last season, it seemed like the Baltimore Orioles right fielder would never have another extra base hit. His .356 slugging percentage was .040 below his previous career-low, and by almost all measurements, it was a year to forget for Markakis.
Now, coming into 2014, Markakis is determined to succeed. The 30-year-old is entering the final year of his contract, and the Orioles are unlikely to pick up his $17.5 million option for the 2015 season. But that doesn’t mean his career in Baltimore is over. Markakis would like to stay with the Orioles and finish his career in Baltimore. If he stays true to his word, that very well may happen.
“I tell people all the time, I’ve made a good bit of money already,” Markakis said in February to the Baltimore Sun. “It’s not about the money, it’s about being somewhere, wanting to be somewhere, being comfortable and taking pride with that team and that organization.”
Markakis felt like he was “a year to a year-and-a-half behind, strength-wise” last season, and he was determined to fix that coming into the 2014 season. He and Ryan Flaherty spent the entire offseason working out together, and by the looks of Markakis this spring, it’s worked. Markakis is 16 pounds heavier this spring, and he’s tearing the Grapefruit League to shreds.
In 25 at-bats, Markakis’ slash-line is .440/.462/.680, but more importantly he looks better at the plate. Despite not having any home runs, Markakis has been able to drive the ball much better with four doubles already. When Markakis was at his best from 2007 to 2010, he sprayed the field with doubles, hitting 181 two-baggers over those four seasons and never hitting less than 43 doubles in one season. In comparison, he only hit 24 doubles last season. Don’t take my word for it, though; Jim Presely is impressed with the way that Markakis is swinging the bat too.
“After all those surgeries, he noticed he didn’t have the strength in his legs or his upper body,” Presley told MLB.com. “So he went out and got after it. And he looks good. He’s going to be ready to go.”
Markakis is going to bounce back in 2014 not just because he’s a talented baseball player, but because he’s got the right attitude — a winning one.