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Braves season in review: Nick Markakis, exactly what we thought

Is that a good thing?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Markakis was everything we expected him to be in 2015, for better or worse. The only real surprise was the decline in power numbers, which can be attributed to a few things. More on that in a moment.

Markakis was most consistent cog in the lineup on a nightly basis. He came into the season with a .290 career average and hit .295. He averaged 35 doubles a season from 2006-2014; he hit 38. He got on base at a slightly higher clip than normal -- a .370 OBP compared to a .357 career average -- and didn't even try to run on the base paths.

He was a strong presence in the clubhouse. He got on-base at good rate. He played sub-par defense. For $11 million, a .296/.359/.376 line with a 107 wRC+ and 1.7 WAR isn't bad at all.

Here's the issue: Markakis isn't getting any younger, and there's a chance he gets substantially worse if he can't regain some of his strength after undergoing neck surgery a year ago. His .338 BABIP was the second-highest of his career, meaning some regression could be on the way. And as he gets older, he may become a liability in the outfield -- he's -28 in Defensive Runs Saved since 2010.

Markakis should be able to get back into the weight room this offseason, something he was unable to do last year. He publicly attributed his decline in power to his inability to lift weights. We'll see if it makes any difference moving forward now that he is completely recovered from the neck procedure.

Looking ahead

Markakis is locked into right field for 2016. He may have to move to left field in 2017 if his range and arm strength continue to deteriorate, though he should be OK come next spring.

The Braves would happily take a repeat of his 2015 performance in 2016. The whole issue, of course, is what he still has left in the tank once the team moves to Cobb County and aims to be a playoff contender. That was always the concern when the club signed him, and it hasn't changed after year one of his four-year deal.

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