Nick MarkakisNick Markakis has hit safely in five consecutive games. He’s reached base in all eight this season and has three multi-hit games including a four hit game on April 6 agains the Minnesota Twins.

In 38 plate appearances this season, Markakis is hitting .333/.368/.472 with two doubles, a homer, 7 runs, 3 RBI, 2 walks and three strikeouts.

Needless to say, his neck is feeling just fine.

Since his success in the role last season (.335/.390/.489, 20 walks, 14 strikeouts), I’ve been an advocate of permanently keeping Markakis in that spot — that is, until I looked into it further. He’s only hit leadoff in two of the Orioles eight games this season and gone 3-for-9 with a run and a strikeout. In the three hole, he’s 9-for-27 with two doubles, a homer, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.

Similar numbers in both spots.

However, you have compare those numbers to Nate McLouth‘s, who has hit leadoff in Buck Showalter‘s lineup the six games that Markakis hasn’t, and has hit .261/.393/.304 with five runs, an RBI, 2 stolen bases, five walks and four strikeouts. He’s a career .254/.341/.442 leadoff man over 1,454 plate appearances.

That average might scare people, but all I want is for the leadoff man to get on base.

While Markakis is hitting for average and McLouth taking free passes, the current 1-3 is best for the O’s. You didn’t really think I’d question Showalter, did you?

If either guy starts to slip, the O’s can move Markakis up top and McLouth down in the lower third of the lineup (where they probably belong).

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and Host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email:zach@baltimoresportsreport.com.