He has been a lightning rod for criticism this year by fans on talk shows and message boards, but in the end, will Nick Markakis prove his critics wrong?
Will the 27-year-old Orioles outfielder have a big finish to this season and make up for lost time with his stats after a slow start?
Right now, it may be heading that way. Markakis' bat is finally hot and he is hitting .405 during a 16-game hitting streak with four doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs during the streak. He is 9-for-19 over the last four games and has eight multi-hit games during his batting streak.
Markakis by month in 2011:
April - .204, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs and .561 OPS.
May - .287, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs and .708 OPS.
June - .337, 2 HRs, 13 RBIs and .798 OPS.
That June OPS is more in line with what he has posted in that stat the last three years. His OPS was .897 in 2008, .801 in 2009 and .805 last year.
Right now, Markakis is on a pace for just 13 homers, 18 doubles and 66 RBIs. Not great for a player with a pair of 100-RBI seasons and for a player that has averaged 45 doubles the last four seasons.
But Markakis does have a hot bat now and is coming into what his track record says are his best months. His career OPS in July is .882 and it is .921 in August. His career second-half OPS is .859.
It was such a slow start for Markakis that even with a couple of hot months, the final stats may still come up short of what many fans expect from him.
But also in his favor right now is that those batting around him, J.J Hardy and Adam Jones, are hot also.
In the end, maybe Markakis will have had a productive 2011 season. Do you think he can put together a strong final 87 games that will make his final stats pretty solid?