The Orioles’ experiment batting right fielder Nick Markakis out of the leadoff spot is paying off.
Markakis began hitting leadoff in the Orioles first game after the All-Star break. In seven games since moving there, Markakis is hitting .429 (12-for-28) following his third-inning single Thursday.
“It’s something I always had in the back of my head,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I think Nicky’s capable of hitting just about anywhere in the order. But really got his attention when I told him he could get another 50 at-bats, he was all for that. Trying to catch up a little bit. I wish we’d do a little better job in the 8 and 9 hole, make his spot even more valuable."
In just a week, Markakis has improved his batting average 22 points, from .256 to .278. He also entered Thursday’s game with three three-hit games since moving to the leadoff spot. He had just four three-hit games in his first 50 games, when he was exclusively batting third in the lineup.
“I don’t look at it as an experiment,” Showalter said. “Most of those things usually go as well as somebody embraces it. And it’s a tribute to Nicky and his makeup. It was a real short conversation. ‘Come on, let’s go. If the teams needs it, let’s do it.’ I don’t think players, at least our players, spend that much time thinking about the order.”
Like Showalter said, the Orioles have been unable to capitalize on Markakis’ surge at the plate from the leadoff spot because of a lack of production in the bottom of the order. The No. 8 and 9 hitters are batting .182 (8-for-44) since the break.