Nick Markakis’ Tumble

Back when Nick Markakis signed his contract, I took a look at what his career trajectory might be like by comparing him comparable players through their age 24 seasons. The list included guys like Gary Matthews, Ben Grieve, Steve Kemp, Rusty Staub, and Ellis Burks. Here’s what the graph of brWAR looked like:

You can see how his comparables peaked at age 24 and then feel off. The hope was that Nick would be able at least come close to maintaining his production. I took how far above Markakis was over the other guys, and extrapolated that forward:

That would have still left Nick as a solidly above average player for quite a while – well worth his contract. And here’s how things have actually gone:

Underperformance in 2009 and 2010, and then a drop off a cliff so far in 2011. Not encouraging.

Switching things up from brWAR to fWAR, here’s how Markakis tracks with Ellis Burks in particular:

Single years by age:


Pretty darn similar. Of course, for Burks a lot of the drop off had to do with injuries; from 22 to 27, he had just 3,095 PA, while Nick already has 3,598 already and 2011 isn’t near over. That age 27 season is when Burks missed the most time, accumulating a few more plate appearances than Markakis has right now.

In any case, Burks ended up having a fine career overall, but many of his best seasons came later on – at ages for which Nick is not currently signed to be under the Orioles’ control (his contract is up after his age 30 season -you can see the spike Burks had at 31).

Does this tell us anything about what to expect from Markakis going forward? Not really. That the red line on the brWAR graphs would now be a welcome sight instead of a let-down is a disappointing thought though.

Stats: WAR