Nick Markakis is batting leadoff tonight for the first time in his major league career.
Why did manager Buck Showalter choose Markakis?
“The answer is a question,” Showalter replied. “As opposed to who?
“I don’t know if Nicky’s more excited about coming back and playing or leading off,” Showalter continued. “We talked about it a little bit yesterday. It was something I thought about, seeing how we were going to be constructed in the post-break.
“One thing, it gives him, hopefully, another 30 to 50 at-bats on the year, which he really liked. And it fits a lot better for us with the presentation you make to other teams’ bullpens. It fits everybody else right now.
“It could change, but I’m a big believer in the presentation you make. You’d like to stay with the same batting order, same lineup, the whole time, but a lot of things happened in the first half with injuries and what-have-you that we’ve had to move things around. But you’re only assured of a guy leading off one time.”
Markakis could drop back down to third in the order. This isn’t a permanent move.
“A computer will tell you that you take your best hitters and you try to get them to the plate as much as possible, and you throw the batting order out the window. It depends who they are,” Showalter said.
“You look at the way we old-timers look at conventional leadoff hitters that we all grew up with. How many of those guys are really in the game anymore? Those guys don’t get compensated for on-base percentage and walks. Those guys are hard to find. Going around the minor leagues and looking at other clubs, how many real true leadoff hitters are there in the game the way that we perceive them? They’re hard to find. Take a look at the 30 clubs and tell me how many guys you’d say, ‘There’s a prototype leadoff hitter.’ They’re hard to find.
“Maybe we’re the ones who have it wrong. Maybe the players have it right. There aren’t many (Mike) Trouts walking around. But what’s happening now is a lot of leadoff hitters could hit anywhere in the order. Trout, you could hit him one through four and not miss a beat. Same way with a (Bryce) Harper and some of these young players coming in.
“As always with Nick, whatever the club needs. And I think he really liked the idea of getting a few more at-bats so he could catch up a bit.”
Chris Davis played left field in 52 minor league games. He’s never done it in the majors before tonight.
“It’s still left field,” Showalter said.
“We were kidding yesterday. I said, ‘You know, I could play you in right at home and in left on the road, so you don’t have so far to run.’ He said, ‘Don’t think I hadn’t thought about that.’
“He’ll have his moments where there will be something that he can’t do that somebody else might be able to do, but he can do some things with the bat. And having Endy (Chavez) here, we can defend out there later in the game if it presents itself. The big thing is Chris takes it on as something he wants to be good at. A lot of guys will say, ‘Well, everybody knows I’m not (an outfielder).’ Well, a lot of people thought that’s where he was going to end up anyway in his career.
“I was talking to him yesterday about what an advantage it is for him to be able to present himself as a guy that can play first and left and right and third, and he understands it. I said, ‘You know, the biggest reason why it’s good is what?’ And he said, ‘Because it gets me in the lineup.’ And I said, ‘Exactly.’ So he’s into it. We’ll see.
“Most of of time, some of these guys with Detroit, if they get a ball in the air to left field, it’s not where you can catch it anyway, especially with our left-center field dimensions.”