Nick Markakis finds a home in the leadoff spot

Nick Markakis had yet another productive game in the leadoff spot Monday as the Orioles beat New York 5-4. He went 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs.

Since he returned from the disabled list and was moved to the leadoff spot, Markakis is batting .364 over 18 games with six doubles, one homer, five RBIs and an OPS of .885. He has nine multi-hit games among those 18 he has played in.

Here is an interesting stat: In the first half, Markakis struck out 37 times in 199 at-bats. Over these past 18 games, he has struck out once in 77 at-bats. One time.

Markakis is certainly thriving in the leadoff position. He lacks the pure speed or base-stealing skills of a true leadoff hitter, but he does work the count and hit to all fields like some leadoff types.

Is Markakis a good leadoff hitter or just a good hitter who is currently batting in the leadoff spot?

Markakis drove in 101 runs in 2009 but had just 60 and 73 the past two years. From 2007-2010, he averaged 45 doubles a year but that dropped to 31 last season.

Maybe Markakis is more suited now for the leadoff spot than he once was. When he was cranking out 45 doubles and 100 RBIs, he profiled more as a three-hole hitter or a two-hole batter as someone who had pop and RBI production in that bat.

But with those numbers having declined, maybe Markakis has found a home at the top of the Orioles batting order. Right now, it’s a clearly a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Markakis is 9-for-23 over his past five games with four multi-hit contests and he is batting .381 over his last ten games. He’s productive at the top of the order and there is no reason right now to do anything but leave him there.

What is your take?: How do you feel about Markakis batting at the top of the order? Should he stay in that spot next season? Is anyone on the team better suited to bat at the top?

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