When asked about current MLB players that share similarities with Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, there are a few that likely come to mind. One that absolutely doesn’t is Atlanta Braves outfielder, Nick Markakis.
Thanks to a tremendous start to his 2018 season for a club that’s surprisingly in playoff contention, that’s no longer true.
The calendar hasn’t even flipped to July yet, but Markakis has already collected 102 hits and 50 RBI for Atlanta. The last time a Braves player accomplished this feat was, well, Hammer himself.
Everything he’s accomplished thus far in 2018 has been a tremendous improvement compared to recent years. Through 352 plate appearances, Markakis owns an .874 OPS, 135 wRC+, and .372 wOBA. The last time he even came close to sniffing these numbers was in 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles, when he finished with an .834 OPS, 126 wRC+, and .359 wOBA.
The only Braves position player with better offensive numbers than Markakis right now is Freddie Freeman.
How exactly has he gotten to this point? The 34-year-old has seen both his chase rate (22.7%) and swing rate on strikes (64.4%) sit at career-best marks, while the same can be said about his 39.6% hard-hit rate and 26.8% line-drive rate.
It’s also worth noting that Markakis has been killing lefties in a way we’re not used to seeing. He owns a career 97 wRC+ and 25.8% hard-hit rate against southpaws, but those numbers have jumped up to 150 and 41.7%, respectively, in 2018.
This re-emergence is cool for many reasons, but mostly because it’s giving him a chance to finally play in an All-Star game. While Markakis has been a solid player throughout his career, the only individual accolades he’s received have come in the form of Gold Gloves, which he’s won twice.
As of the latest National League voting update on June 25th, he’s actually leading all outfielders with over 1.8 million votes. Anything can happen until things become official, but it sure looks like Markakis will be heading to the nation’s capital in a few weeks. And based off his early-season performance, he absolutely deserves it.
Getting mentioned in the same breath as Hank Aaron now is probably just icing on cake.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.