2020 Atlanta Braves Season Review: Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis, boy how things have changed. As a fan, I used to really like Nick Markakis. He was a very steady and reliable presence throughout the doldrums of The Great Rebuild. Was he overpaid from 2015 to 2018? Probably, but oh well. And in his contract year of 2018, he was one of our most valuable players, made the All-Star team, played in 162 games, and we were happy to have him back for a heavily discounted rate in 2019 and 2020. Did he give us a Hometown Discount? Sure seems that way. The decline was inevitable in 2019, so I can’t hold that against him.

But in 2020, everything fell off the table for Kakes. Some additional regression was extremely likely, but the man become a major disappointment and liability. On July 6th, after Freddie Freeman tested positive for COVID and actually had symptoms to boot, Markakis opted out. But on July 9th, he opted back in. The Braves attempted to sign Yasiel Puig, but Puig tested positive for COVID, so that idea was out. I’m unable to find the source (maybe it was a tweet?), but apparently the Braves begged Markakis to return. I question how ready someone is to compete at the highest level if they have to begged to return.

So without the benefit of any sort of physical preparation, Markakis grabbed a bat and stepped in. His first three weeks were incredible: a .368/.429/.596 line in 63 PAs. But if you expected his .417 BABIP to continue, then you were disappointed. Because when the clock struck midnight in August and the calendar turned to September, he turned into a pumpkin: .164/.218/.233 in 78 PAs. The playoffs brought no resurgence as his .216/.237/.324 line in 38 more PAs became a millstone around the neck of the Atlanta offense in October.

Nick Markakis was a good Brave at a time where there weren’t many good Braves. His first half in 2018 went beyond the stat line to help wake the Braves up out of The Great Rebuild. Personally, I think his career is over, and for good reason. This is a man who has played 2,154 games — the most career games for someone who never appeared in a World Series — because he chose to play his entire career for 2 teams within 3 hours of his house. And when almost every single Atlanta Brave returned to the team for a potential World Series-winning year, Nick Markakis uniquely decided to stay home. He probably should have continued to stay home, and I hope he stays home next year as well.

20 thoughts on “2020 Atlanta Braves Season Review: Nick Markakis”

  1. Neck Kakes had a good career, and for his Atlanta homecoming, he was not great, but he was not as awful as I frequently feared he would be. In the end, if he sails off into the sun or he catches on as a bench bat and Veteran Presents on another squad, I’ll salute him. But I’ll be glad that someone else (i.e. Pache) will get those four plate appearances a day.

  2. While we might still quibble over the whys and hows of Markakis’ 2020, there is no disagreement over the end result. Cakes is toast. Thank you for your service and don’t let the door hit you on the way out (which is why I suggested he might be the 1st FA signed…too typical of the current organizational model, especially in this coming year of financial uncertainty and lowered budgets.)

  3. Markakis is in the top 200 alltime in games played (171st, actually.) 33rd alltime among outfielders (which I define as those playing more than 90 percent of their games in the outfield.)
    And of those 32 above him, 18 are in the HOF. (Plus Bonds and Andruw, who should be, and Ichiro, who will be.)

  4. Tied with Willie Wilson for games played and just behind Tommy Leach (if you consider him an outfielder.) A long, distinguished career, to be sure. But I seriously doubt he gets to 3,000 hits, though it was surprising to learn he came in 6th in the Rookie of the Year ballot in 2006. The more you know.

  5. Apparently I’m tarnishing Mac’s reputation. Geez, social media is so awful sometimes.

  6. @5 – I don’t traffic in social media outside of a little FB and on blogs (if you consider that social media.) The above is a large reason why. That said, while I did not know Mac personally, I recall memorably his persona on this platform and I think it is safe to say he himself would have been all for a “trade Ender” scenario. I don’t always agree with you, Ryan, but keep doing what you’re doing. Trolls be trollin’.

  7. @5 – One can’t write on the internet without expecting to encounter some harsh pushback from time to time. It’s a tribute to Mac’s memory and intentions that so little of it takes place on the site. It’s also ironic that it’s due to the efforts of you, Rob, and Alex, that Braves Journal continues (at Mac’s request,) which does more to keep his memory alive than any possible Ender-vention you might require.

  8. Nick had a good career, and seems like a really good guy. I’m on record as saying I wish we’d given his 2020 roster spot to someone with more upside, but that was pretty much mooted when rosters expanded to 28.

    Nick was our 9th best position player, unless you want to make a case for Inciarte or Camargo, so when the DH was added, he was as good an option to play as any. It’s far from certain that Pache will hit initially, although that would have been the upside play. I wish Nick good luck however 2021 turns out for him.

  9. By now, Mac would have pasted a poorly cropped photo of Ender into a doghouse.

    Mac often said his two biggest influences as a writer were Bill James and Dave Barry. Being accused of slapstick on Braves Journal is not slander, it’s a noble legacy.

    Thanks for all you do, Ryan, and ignore the trolls.

  10. Rob, I’m pretty sure Markakis has the most career games without a WS appearance of any player who was active in 2020, not any player ever. Ernie Banks played a few hundred more games, and I imagine there have been others. Fwiw, his opting out didn’t bother me, especially as uncertain as everything was in July.

  11. Solid career, a doubles machine. He was a perfect signing for the Braves in ’15. If he never takes another swing, he’s got a lot to be proud of and Braves fans have a lot to thank him for.

  12. Markakis’ opting out didn’t matter much to me either. Waffling on that decision at the last minute – questions of his remaining value as a player aside – bothered me a lot more.

  13. One out —Bases Loaded vs Dodgers Watching that 3rd strike —Nick was done for me!

    Should have been on a plane back to Atl 15 minutes later.

  14. Hammers Tees are in! If you’re a Patreon person with a $5 or more pledge and have not gotten your shirt, send me an email at cothrjr at gmail dot com with your address and I’ll ship it out to you.

    If you’re not a Patreon subscriber, it’s $25 out the door. First come first serve!

  15. Having watched Nick for the last six years, I think he has given his all for the Braves! With no training camp, Nick was able to “spring” out of the 2020 years in an outstanding manner! In his defense I believe he was worn out by the 30th game of the season but was given the chance to try and become in some sort of shape for the last 30 days. I must admit it did not work out for Nick and for that I am truly sorry for him and the Braves. Should he be given another chance would be a stretch. However, a look-see in Spring Training would be better than just letting go. Just my take on the situation.

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