Once upon a time there was a young outfielder who played for the Baltimore Orioles who seemingly had superstar written all over him. At the tender ages of 24, Markakis cracked 22 home runs with 18 stolen bases with 97 runs and 112 RBI while hitting .300. The fact he was able to do so much as such a young age lit a buzz in the fantasy baseball world and no doubt visions of perennial early round production was in his sights for many years without debate.
Fast forward to 2011 and what we have no in Markakis is a guy who is barely being looked at as an OF 3 in almost all fantasy baseball leagues as he comes off a season where had only 12 homers with 7 steals with only 60 RBI and 79 runs scored. What the heck happened? At only 28 years old this season, Markakis should be right at the start of his prime but instead what we have is a guy who has steadily gone downhill since that great seasons in 2007. With that being said, lets get to the bottom of his struggles and discuss whether I think Markakis is viable as a decent fantasy baseball OF for 2011.
Looking at Markakis’ trends since 2007, everything basically has done in the wrong direction. When Markakis first came up with the Orioles, he was a guy that was looked at as someone who could do it all and has the power/speed combo that make all fantasy baseball players weak in the knees. As I stated earlier however, Markakis’ stats have plummeted since than as his home runs have gone from that 23 to 20 to 18 and than last seasons 12. The stolen bases have joined in the decline as they have gone from that 18 to 10 to 6 and than last season’s 7. That is some drop and at such a young age its almost unbelievable. Making this even more difficult to fathom, Markakis has been extrememly durable during that time and so its not like injuries are to blame here. His walks have remained steady and his batting average has also been solid during this time as its never been lower than .293. Crazy stuff indeed.
There have been rumors about Markakis possibly being someone who experimented with PED’s in the past and thats why he has lost his pop and his explosiveness on the bases. Although the evidence looks damning, there is no proof of this and so we cant lean on that as an excuse. Be that as it may, something definately is up here and it doesnt seem like Markakis has been able to compensate for it.
Looking to the 2011 season, in my opinion Nick Markakis is someone I wont even be looking at unless he comes really cheap as someone who can be a bench guy (my leagues play 3 OF’s.) If you play in a deeper OF format with 5 guys in that spot, than Markakis could be someone to plug in the four or five spot as his average should remain good while his runs and RBI figure to be solid now that Baltimore has improved the lineup around him this winter. Still the stats that get most of the attention in fantasy baseball are the home runs and steals and those are not very good right now. So to reiterate I dont recommend Markakis unless he comes real cheap as it appears the promise he showed early in his career has vanished along with his fantasy baseball value.
2011 PROJECTION: .298 BA 95 RBI 15 HR 101 RBI 9 SB