Many Braves fans have taken Nick Markakis’ uber consistent production for granted over his five years in Atlanta. Sure, nothing about his game is flashy. He doesn’t hit 450-foot bombs, he’s not overly athletic, and he has the persona of a stone wall, but it’s been easy to recognize what this team is missing when he’s not in the clubhouse.
A couple of weeks before the restart of the season, Markakis decided to opt-out. He had several reasonable reasons for his decision, but it didn’t take long for his hunger for competition to re-emerge. And not even a month after he stepped away from the team, he told Alex Anthopoulos he wanted to come back. Rightfully, the Braves welcomed his return with open arms, and he’s been terrific since rejoining the active roster.
On Monday, Markakis added a couple of doubles to his resumé, giving him 505 for his career, just one shy of the legendary Babe Ruth. Those knocks also raised his average to .353 on the season, easily the highest mark on the roster.
Markakis is the type of player, like Freddie Freeman, that can wake up and hit .300. At fifty years old, his approach would still be professional enough to result in a decent average over a 162-game season. He never tries to do too much, fights like hell with two strikes, and is always willing to take what the pitcher gives him. It may not have seemed like that big of a deal when he decided to opt-out, but the difference with and without him is night and day, and the Braves need all the competent bats they can get with the state of their starting rotation.