There was much ado about Nick Markakis signing his four-year deal with the Braves during the 2014-2015 offseason. Since then, he’s been quite consistent and may even be getting better as he distances himself from neck surgery.
The biggest concern with Markakis wasn’t so much the money ($44 million) but the length of the contract. The concern at the time was Markakis, then 31, would fall apart during his final few years of the deal, especially after having a major procedure on his neck.
Markakis’s first season in Atlanta featured nearly no power (.080 ISO, .376 SLG%), though he did get on base at a high rate. Last year was more the norm for the veteran outfielder, cracking 13 homers while his ISO and slugging percentage neared his career marks. He was worth a pedestrian 1.5 WAR in 2015 and 1.1 WAR in 2016.
While it’s silly to write about anything this early in the year, Markakis has continued to hit in 2017 similarly to the way he closed out 2016. He’s batting .286/.375/.446 with a 125 wRC+ through 15 games. Compare that to his similar line in the second half of last year — .289/.370/.441, 113 wRC+ — and you have to consider this may be the Markakis the Braves get for the considerable future. That would be a good thing, all things considered.
I asked Braves fans on Twitter what they’ve thought on the signing as we’re a little more than 50 percent of the way through:
I’d be inclined to agree. Markakis has been far from spectacular, but he’s been exactly what the Braves signed him to be. If he can continue hitting the way he has over his last 85 games or so, he’s a fine 5th hitter.
He’s been durable and consistent, two things that are valuable for a rebuilding club. His remaining contract is manageable and could be traded should the right situation arise. And if he can continue to hit the way he has over his last 90 games or so, the Braves will continue being happy with what he’s brought to the table.