With the Baltimore Orioles having some trouble at the top of the order, it was nice to see Brian Roberts come back. Sadly, he got hurt again, but, not long after that, Baltimore had their right fielder come back, and he has been a pleasant surprise in the leadoff spot.
Nick Markakis has usually batted second or third as an Oriole. Before getting hurt, Markakis was hitting third for the O’s and doing so decently. Before his injury, he was batting .256 with eight home runs and 26 runs batted in. Since his return, the power numbers have been non-existent, but he is hitting an impressive .364 so far in the 10 games he has been back.
Hitting leadoff is a tough thing to do, especially if you’re normally a second or third batter, but Nick has gotten the job done. His .417 on-base percentage is a vast improvement over the .333 he put up before his injury. Even more impressive than that is the fact that he has only struck out once in 44 at bats since coming back, compared to 37 strike-outs in his previous 199 at bats before getting hurt.
Not bad for a leadoff hitter.
The O’s are still in the thick of things. They are currently still holding on to the last Wild-Card spot, and they will need Markakis, as well of the rest of the offense, to start producing.
Impressively, the Orioles are third in home runs in all of baseball with 120, behind the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. The bad news is that they have scored only 395 runs, which is 20th in the league. That’s not good. That means they are way too dependent on the long ball. When games get tighter in September, they will need to play small ball and manufacture runs.
With only a few days left before the trade deadline, it will be interesting to see what Baltimore does, especially given the fact that they’re still right in the mix. For the first time in a long while, baseball is still relevant at Camden Yards.
by Andy Mindzak