“Sometimes, guys are going up there and it looks like they have no idea what they’re doing. I’m not saying that to bash guys. I want guys to be successful, I want this team to be successful, and I have to produce as well. I’m part of this. But it takes a lot more than one big bat. We definitely need that one guy who could hit you 40 home runs, but from top to bottom, you need guys getting on base. You need guys in there who have a plan, who have a clue and who know how to execute that plan and get on base. We don’t need every guy in this lineup trying to hit home runs. We’re paid to get on base and figure out how to score and drive in runs.” – Nick Markakis
By my count, that’s three mentions of getting on base. Excellent, and 100% correct. Nick’s the only guy in the line-up* who’s walking 10% of the time, the only one with an OBP above .360, and the only one swinging at less than 23.5% of pitches out of the strike-zone (with Ty Wigginton (25.4%) and Garrett Atkins (23.7%) the two other O’s who are even better than average in that area).
* Craig Tatum, Brian Roberts, and Nolan Reimold are all also walking more than 10% of the time, and Felix Pie has a .455 OBP. Reimold and Tatum also did a good job laying off out of zone pitches. I’m talking about regulars currently playing in the majors.
Alternately, 3 of the 17 top guys who swing at balls in the AL (min. 100 PA) are in the Birds’ line-up (Jones – 39.1%, Tejada – 37.2%, and Patterson – 36.8%). Jones (2.9%) and Tejada (3.7%) have 2 of the 9 lowest walk rates. Five guys – Lugo, Izturis, Atkins, Jones, and Wieters – have sub .300 OBPs; and four of them are likely to be in the line-up on any given night. Is it any wonder that a 4 run day from the line-up is seen as a positive development?
In other – related – news, Nick has gone from swinging at ~22% of balls in April and May to almost 27% so far in June. I know he’s probably pressing a bit, but he needs to continue to follow his own advice.