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Nick Markakis is decent Ferguson Jenkins Jersey , but the Braves could do better."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Talking Chop User’s GuideTalking Chop PodcastAround the NL EastBaseball Analysis PrimerAtlanta could still improve the “right” wayNew,146commentsNick Markakis is decent, but the Braves could do better.EDTShareTweetShareShareAtlanta could still improve the “right” wayAtlanta began the 2018 offseason in style by inking Josh Donaldson to a big one-year contract which made him the highest paid player on the team at $23,000,000 dollars for his age 33 season. Then, action stalled out for a bit as the Braves front office was presumably “shopping on every aisle” for good deals that benefit the team’s long-run outlook. Those larger deals never came, but the Braves did well to bring back catcher Brian McCann on a one season deal for $2,000,000, along with Nick Markakis on a one-year deal worth $6,000,000 with a club option for 2020. Those three moves were solid, but they ended up being basically all Atlanta did in the offseason. Understandably, the fan base is furious because, despite adding an MVP-caliber player in Donaldson, the team did not get drastically better while Atlanta’s in-division opponents got much better overall. Originally when we first heard about the Nick Markakis contract there was some assumption (or maybe hope?) that this smaller deal would mean that he was heading to the bench where he’d be a solid addition. Yet, now as we approach opening day at a furious pace, it has become apparent that Markakis will be Atlanta’s starting right fielder for a fifth consecutive season, and that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team vying to win the division again. Let me explain.Nick Markakis is still a useful player. Let’s just get that out of the way. In no way whatsoever is this a condemnation of his ability to still play the game of baseball at 35 years old. However, when it comes to his current state and past numbers, it is hard to believe that Atlanta was unable to find any better options on the open free agent market or trade market. Markakis is coming off his most valuable season, in terms of fWAR http://www.rangersfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-moore-jersey , since over a decade ago in 2008. Well, we should say, Markakis was unbelievably good for approximately two months last season and was his normal self for the other four months. Brad Johnson of Fangraphs said it best:“In an era when practically anybody is a candidate to break out, Nick Markakis’ 2018 performance was the ultimate tease. Early in the season, he showed signs of a modest launch angle adjustment accompanied by an uptick in home run rate. He quickly reverted to the plain ol’ Markakis. Although he posted his best season since 2008, there wasn’t any substantive difference from his previous eight campaigns”What is “plain ol’ Markakis” anyways? We’re to the point in baseball history where we have a bevy of prediction tools at our disposal which take the data from every swing, catch, throw and sprint and spit out a very accurate idea of what to expect from the player going forward. However, even without those fantastic projections, anyone who has watched Markakis enough could probably tell you what to expect from him over 685 plate appearances in a season. Markakis has quite a large sample size to pull from, but his current ability is best represented by his time with the Braves after his neck fusion surgery in 2014 to repair a herniated disk. So, if we take the averages of his four seasons with Atlanta you would expect Markakis to produce approximately 686 plate appearances, 10 homers a season, 78 RBI and a 103 wRC+ (100 is average). Now, those numbers are just above average, but those are fairly weak offensive stats from a position that is known around the game for producing big offense. Even in Markakis’ “Silver Slugger” season in 2018 he managed a somewhat above average 114 wRC+. (For comparison, corner outfielders managed a 108 wRC+ last year.)Steamer projects that over 600 plate appearances Markakis would average 11 home runs, 66 RBI, and a 102 wRC+. Do those numbers look familiar? Markakis, on the defensive side, has actually been even worse over the least four years with the Braves than he has been an offensive player. Even as he has been able to post decent metrics when it comes to flagging down fly balls with a 99.8% catch rate on fly balls with a 90% catch probability (6th best in baseball), Markakis still ranks as the seventh worst player in throwing among qualified players. In that same sample he ranks as the fourth slowest outfielder Ryan Rua Jersey , fourth worst in first step metrics, and 31st overall in range factor.All of this is to say, Markakis can catch the ball nearly every time it comes his way, but he isn’t going to steal any outs.This post is not intended to be myself ragging on Nick Markakis as a player, because in many ways he is absolutely worth his current contract. He can still be a solid contributor off the bench, he is stoic and a good role model as far as work ethic goes in the locker room full of kids, but this post is just to show that there is a big way the Braves could’ve improved this offseason but elected not to.The team now has a loaded infield, with all four starters in line for 3+ fWAR seasons. They also have two studs in the outfield filled by the reigning rookie of the year and the arguable best defensive center fielder in the game. Yet, they still have room to get better in right field and with so many options that were available this offseason, it leaves you begging the question “Why?”.Fret not as there is still time, but I would not get my hopes up. Stay tuned. Toronto Blue Jays (9-12, third in the AL East) vs. Oakland Athletics (11-11, fourth in the AL West)Oakland, California; Saturday, 4 p.m. EDTPITCHING PROBABLES: Blue Jays: Matt Shoemaker (3-0, 1.75 ERA, .86 WHIP, 23 strikeouts) Athletics: Mike Fiers (3-1, 7.06 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 16 strikeouts)LINE: Athletics favored by 1 1/2 runs; over/under is 8 1/2 runsBOTTOM LINE: Oakland and Toronto will square off at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Saturday.The Athletics are 7-6 on their home turf. Oakland has hit 37 home runs this season, fourth in the MLB. Khris Davis leads them with 10 Drew Robinson Jersey , averaging one every 8.1 at-bats.The Blue Jays are 5-6 in road games. Toronto ranks last in the American League in hitting with a .217 batting average. Freddy Galvis leads the club with an average of .304. The Blue Jays won the last meeting 5-1. Marcus Stroman earned his first victory and Brandon Drury went 1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI for Toronto. Aaron Brooks registered his second loss for Oakland.TOP PERFORMERS: Davis leads the Athletics with 10 home runs and has 20 RBIs. Josh Phegley is 12-for-35 with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs over the last 10 games for Oakland.Randal Grichuk leads the Blue Jays with 10 extra base hits and has seven RBIs. Teoscar Hernandez is 9-for-34 with a double, two home runs and nine RBIs over the last 10 games for Toronto.LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 5-5, .272 batting average, 6.06 ERA, outscored opponents by two runsBlue Jays: 6-4, .251 batting average, 4.18 ERA, outscored opponents by two runsAthletics Injuries: Sean Manaea: 60-day IL (shoulder), Daniel Gossett: 60-day IL (elbow), Marco Estrada: 10-day IL (lumbar strain), Jharel Cotton: 60-day IL (elbow), Nick Martini: 10-day IL (knee), Matt Olson: 10-day IL (hand), Chris Herrmann: 60-day IL (knee).Blue Jays Injuries: Clayton Richard: 10-day IL (knee), David Phelps: 10-day IL (elbow), Ryan Borucki: 60-day IL (elbow), Dalton Pompey: 60-day IL (concussion), Jonathan Davis: 10-day IL (ankle), Devon Travis: 60-day IL (knee).