Moving Nick Markakis from the three hole to leadoff was one of the best moves Buck Showalter made last season. Markakis went from a .256/.333/.452 hitter over 50 games to a .335/.390/.489 hitter over 54 games.
Unfortunately, CC Sabathia ended Markakis’ season when he drilled him in the hand on September 8. The Birds’ attempted to replace his production atop their lineup with Nate McLouth, who hit .263/.342/.455 in 24 games as the leadoff hitter.
A healthy Nick Markakis reported to Spring Training early — like just about all of his eager teammates — and talked about making the transition to leadoff in a recent interview with Scott Garceau and Jeremy Conn on 105.7 The Fan.
“I’ll hit where ever,” Markakis said. “After I came back from my hammate surgery, Buck came up to me and you know he threw the thought out there and I was like ‘do it, do what you gotta do man. I’ll hit where you want,’ and you know it just worked out.”
As a leadoff hitter, Markakis scored 24 runs and took 20 walks in his 246 plate appearances.
“I think the leadoff spot allows me to be a little more aggressive,” he added.
While Markakis did acknowledge that there will be competition for the spot, I still expect the job to be his if he’s fully healthy and performs well this spring. Like Tommy Hunter in the bullpen, I think Markakis is a lock for the top of the lineup after his performance last year. His days in the middle of the order are over and I think O’s fans should be glad that he’s finally found his role.