It’s been said and asked before about Nick Markakis by those with the Orioles and some others from outside the organization.
Why doesn’t he pull the ball more and hit a bunch of homers over that right-field scoreboard?
Some think that short right-field porch should become a regular landing place for Markakis homers. That is, if he would turn on the ball more and drive the inside pitch to right.
We know Markakis loves to hit to left and left center and has gap-to-gap power. But he can and has driven the ball out to right and did it several times late in the season.
Is it a matter of Nick just not wanting to turn on the inside pitch, or does he just not get many inside pitches to turn on?
“Pitchers are content to throw me away, away, away, and take whatever the outcome is,” Markakis said in a late-season interview. “It’s a game about adjustments and once they do start coming in, then I adjust to him and start pulling the ball. But I used to go up there with the approach of trying to pull everything and you’re not going to get anything good out of it. It’s just constantly (a matter of) changing your approach.”
After hitting 18 homers in 2009, Markakis hit just 12 last season.
“If you want to hit homers, where’s your power? You want to pull the ball. I’m not saying they’re not coming in, but I’m not getting that pitch when they do come in. I’m missing. It’s all a learning process, adjustments and things that you need to keep in mind and you look forward to working on that in the future, for next year. You work on it and get better.
“I think I need to bust my butt a little bit in the offseason. That’s the beauty of this game. You have things that go wrong, you know how to fix them real quick - work harder, get stronger. In my case, I’d like to get a little bit stronger this offseason and go from there.”
Don’t know whether we can read anything into this or not, but of Markakis’ 12 homers on the season, just four came in 81 road games. Last season, he hit 10 of 18 on the road.
Earlier this off season, I discussed Markakis’ run production dropoff this year in this post.
Markakis’ RBI numbers increased some when Brian Roberts returned to the lineup and Markakis said B-Rob’s presence in the lineup does impact his production.
“Absolutely. I’ve said all along B-Rob’s one of the best, if not the best, leadoff guys in the game. He gets on base. He’s going to have a .370 to .400 on-base percentage. He’s going to hit his doubles, he’s going to get on base.
“He’s probably the biggest key component to this offense and not only did it hurt me but it hurt the whole team. When he gets on, when he leads off with a base hit, a walk or a double, just getting on base it changes the whole atmosphere of the inning and it can change a whole game.”
Markakis was asked about the O’s 34-23 record under Buck Showalter.
“It shows you what we have and what we’re capable of doing. I’ve said all along we’ve got a great group of guys and we have great talent. It’s just a matter of putting it together. When we put it together, we can play with anybody.”
Markakis said the club clearly went through growing pains this year with so many young players but felt that was the best move for the team moving forward.
“It’s hard to do when you put that many young guys as we put in the big leagues at one time. We really had no other options. We really don’t have those five to 10 top-top prospect guys to come up here.
“We’ve had a little bit of everybody helping out, contributing and if our younger guys are going to be here for a long time, they’ve definitely come a long way. They’ve battled through some tough times and these last two months have been fun. It shows a lot to our future and our organization.”
Markakis also said the club’s winning record (14-13) vs. the AL East under Showalter gives the team a lift heading into 2011.
“It says a lot. It says a lot about our team, it says a lot about our organization, it says a lot about our coaching staff. It says a lot about a lot of things. It’s definitely good to see. It’s something we haven’t seen here in a while. I think it’s slowly but surely going in the direction that we all hoped and planned it.”