Nick Markakis, at age 34, could be in route to his first All-Star game. In a Braves season filled with surprises, that might become the best story.
The right fielder has been near unexplainably productive in his contract year. He’s hitting .338, third-best in the National League, with a league-best 24 multi-hit games entering Wednesday.
Fan voting for the 2018 All-Star game opens Friday, and with roughly six weeks before the event takes place in Washington, Markakis is clearly deserving of his first All-Star nod, if not a starting outfielder honor.
“I try not to get ahead of myself on that one because we have a long way to go, but that would be just great if that happened,” manager Brian Snitker said. “But like I said, we have a long way to go.”
Snitker’s cautiousness is warranted. Plus, fan voting often favors active fan bases and bigger markets over the best players. Braves fans would need to step up to get Markakis a starting role.
Markakis hasn’t offered an explanation for his career-year. That includes an unexpected power surge: His seven homers are as many as he hit in 117 games a year ago. The most homers he’s knocked in a season was 23, way back in 2007.
In addition, Markakis’ 73 hits are the second-most in baseball. His .402 on-base percentage is fifth in the National League. His .364 average against lefties is second-best for all left-handed hitters.
Perhaps we should’ve seen it coming: Markakis started his All-Star worthy campaign with a bang. He slugged his first-career walk-off home run to beat the Phillies on opening day.
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