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Markakis, Braves react to huge support they’re getting in All-Star voting

 

 

He has the sixth-most career hits among current major leaguers, the eighth-most walks, two Gold Gloves, and is arguably the active leader in stony-faced stares regardless of whether he just got hit by a pitch or hit a home run.

What Nick Markakis does not have in his 13-year career is an All-Star recognition. But that could soon change.

The 34-year-old had the second-most votes among National League outfielders when the first NL fan voting update was released Monday. 

Markakis was one of a whopping eight Braves whose names appeared among the leading vote-getters at their position including first baseman Freddie Freeman, who led all NL players in votes with 633,342, and Ozzie Albies, who led NL second basemen.

The Braves also had shortstop Dansby Swanson with the second-most votes among shortstops, third baseman Johan Camargo and catcher Kurt Suzuki with the third-most votes at their respective positions, and Ronald Acuna and Ender Inciarte with the fifth- and sixth-most votes among NL outfielders.

“It shows you all the talent on our team, especially our young guys,” Markakis said. “You know what Freddie’s going to do every year. It’s good to see. It’s good to see for them, and good to see for the team and the fans.”

The robust vote totals were far greater than any Braves teams have been accorded in recent years. If the current voting trends hold they would have three starting position players, something that’s never happened since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. 

The last time a Braves team had a trio of starting position players was 1960, when the Milwaukee Braves had catcher Del Crandall, first baseman Joe Adcock, third baseman Eddie Mathews and the great Hank Aaron start both All-Star games that season.

The last time a trio of Atlanta-era Braves started was 1998, when Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, shortstop (and current bench coach) Walt Weiss and Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux were in the lineup. The last Brave voted to start an All-Star game was second baseman Dan Uggla in 2012.

“It’s great -- well deserved,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the robust vote totals for this year’s players, on pace for the best-ever voting for the Braves in the Atlanta era. 

“It’s amazing, just to see the support, the consistent support throughout this entire year,” Swanson said. “And just for them to be able to recognize what Freddie’s done – he’s remarkable. At the same time we talk about Markakis too, what he’s been able to do and what he brings to the table each night is pretty special…

“The support is always cool to see. Especially how we’ve been playing this year, it’s cool to be recognized like that. We don’t do it necessarily for the recognition, but it is cool at times to be able to get the affirmation like that.”

Snitker said, “I didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t even got a chance to go online and put mine (votes) in yet.” 

He smiled and added, “Like I say, it’s well deserved. I love the support that they’re getting; it makes you feel good. The fans here are appreciating what these guys are doing.”

Braves players were especially pleased to see Markakis, a quiet team leader, in position to not just make his first All-Star team but to start if the voting continues at the current rate. 

He was asked about possibly making the All-Star team and potentially getting to enjoy it with Freeman and other Braves.

“Yeah, it’d be nice,” Markakis said. “I think for the most part it’d be best for my kids. My kids would appreciate it more than anybody. We’ll see what happens. I don’t like to talk about that stuff, but it is what it is. Just got to continue doing what you’re doing.”

The top three vote-getters among outfielders will start along with the top vote-getter at each other position, with pitchers to be selected by the managers.

“(Markakis) almost gets underappreciated just because he is the same person every day and he goes out there and perfroms the same every day,” Swanson said. “His greatness can honestly be overlooked at times, and I’m just happy that he’s able to get that recognition now.”

Markakis is having perhaps the finest season of his career, batting .327 with eight home runs before Tuesday and tied with Freeman and Albies for the NL double lead with 19. He was tied for the NL hits lead with 85, ranked seventh in the league in OBP (.388) and 11th in OPS (.881).

To repeat, he’s 34. He insisted that he’s not thinking about the All-Star game and possibly making it for the first time.

“I just do my thing,” Markakis said. “I’ve got a job to do every day and when it comes to that time, whatever happens, happens. I’m not going to try to push the issue or anything, change anything I’m doing. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing and everything else will play itself out.”

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