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Key Stats: Nick Markakis was fourth in at bats in MLB last season which is significant for two reasons. First, it’s clear that he can stay healthy. Markakis has missed 7 games over the last three seasons, so essentially he’s the most reliable player in the game right now. Second, this means that his cumulative stats are more likely the ceiling for what kind of player he can be this year and going forward. With players who didn’t go a full 162, we can wonder about how they could have been better over a 162 game season, but Markakis is what he is.

Skeptics Say: As I said in great detail last June, Markakis is overrated. He’s ranked in the preseason top 50 for MDC and ESPN and has a career high of only 23 home runs and 18 steals. Markakis put together both of those numbers back in 2007, so to justify this ranking he leaves no margin for error. He needs to stay on the field, and even if he does play in another 160 or so next year, the average numbers he gives you on a daily basis won’t be as good as those of someone like Josh Hamilton who can put together better numbers on an average day.

Peer Comparison: The numbers that Markakis actually hit last year were 18 home runs and 6 steals. His fantasy teams were saved by him bringing his lunch pail everyday and earning 94 runs and 101 RBI. Looking at those first two numbers again though, Torii Hunter finsihed with 22 home runs and 18 steals (almost matching Markakis’ best season). He also finished with a better average and OPS than Markakis last year. Hunter is going 47 picks after Markakis in the average Mock Draft Central draft. Based on the numbers that gap is obviously too large.

Of course is Markakis misses 15 games, Hunter is without question the better player. Markakis could do everything right in the offseason, but as Carlos Pena found out, injuries are often out of the player’s control.

Lineup Outlook: By the end of last season the personification of hope in Baltimore baseball, Matt Wieters, was hitting in the third spot in the order and Markakis was hitting fourth. Staying in this spot of the order could mean slightly more RBI opportunities, but it will really cut down on his run scoring potential and ultimately he won’t be top four in total at-bats again. It’s not clear right now where Miguel Tejada will hit, but Adam Jones didn’t do anything to lose the number two spot in the order so let’s assume Tejada hits behind Markakis. Tejada wouldn’t be the worst option since he can hit both lefties and righties, but this isn’t 2004 either.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #14 Outfielder; ESPN.com: #48 Overall; Yahoo: #14 Outfielder and #56 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #50 Overall; Couch Managers: #60 Overall ;FB 365: #18 Outfielder

Projection: If you are playing in a league with me, don’t worry about me selecting Markakis.
90 R 21 HR 103 RBI 9 SB .300 AVG .835 OPS

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