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« Inside Jeter | Main | Gomes Trouble Zone »
Saturday
Feb192011

Diminishing Distance

As Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles hit his prime years, he saw his slugging percentage whither away.  In 2008 at the age of 24, Nick posted his best single season marks in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, smashing the ball for a .491 SPct.  He gave the ball a good ride, his flies averaging 332 feet.

Nick Markakis, fly ball distance, 2008.He did a good job driving the ball the other way, and seven of his fly ball home runs could be classified as going to the opposite field.

In 2009, his fly ball distance dropped to 319 feet, his slugging percentage dropped to .453, and his only opposite field home run was barely to the left of straight away center:

Nick Markakis, fly ball distance 2009.In 2010, the heat map became even cooler, with an average fly ball distance of 310 feet and a slugging percentage of .436.

Nick Markakis, fly ball distance, 2010.Again, only one fly ball homer went the opposite way.  His HR total over the three yeras went from 20 to 18 to 12.

He's not hitting the ball as far, but the question remains why.  Pitchers appear to work him the same way.  The pitch him outside, trying to get the ball to move in on the plate.  The mix of pitches is about the same, mostly fast balls and sliders, although Nick saw a few more changeups in 2010.

From looking at where he puts the ball in play, Markakis appears to be less of a pull hitter than in 2008.  Yes, fewer of his home runs go out the other way, but more of his balls in play that stay in the ball park do.  Power hitters tend to be pull hitters.  Nick appears to have adjusted to the way he was pitched by trying to go the other way, going with the pitch.   His batting average hasn't dropped that much in the three years, only about 10 points.  He dumping singles into left and center, instead of smacking the ball all over the park.  He should go back to trying to pull the ball.

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