Nick Markakis averaged 99 runs, 20.3 HRs, 100 RBI and 11.3 SBs while hitting .299 from 2007-2009. He didn’t excel in any one category, outside of the 112 RBI in 2007, but he was a solid contributor across the board.

Then last year happened.

The only area in which Markakis looked like himself was his batting average of .297. He scored just 79 runs; he hit just 12 HRs.

Those dips were bad, but his 60 RBI was perhaps the worst of the bunch.

Those look more like middle infielder numbers than what an all-round top 20 outfielder should produce. He ranked fourth on the team in RBI, behind Ty Wiggington, Luke Scott and Adam Jones, all of which had fewer at bats than Markakis. Wiggington and Jones has 48 fewer ABs, while Scott had a whopping 182 fewer.

Nick wasn’t the only Oriole to disappoint last year though. Adam Jones (.284-76-19-69-7) and Matt Wieters (.249-37-11-55-0) did not meet expectations. Plus, Brian Roberts was limited to 59 games.

The Orioles as a whole ranked 27th in runs scored and 21st in HRs.

With just 60 RBI, it’s hard to find a glimmer of hope in Markakis’ season. He was wildly inconsistent with four RBI in April, 13 in May, seven in June, 12 in July, nine in August and 12 in September.

I guess if you want to be optimistic, he hit .344 with 21 runs, four HRs and 15 RBI in his final 122 ABs. More than that small sample size, I would draw on his career numbers when assessing his 2011 potential.

Players have off-years. It’s not uncommon, especially when the team as a whole struggles like it did. Given his track record, I am willing to gamble that last year was a fluke.

As a bonus, his decline should allow you to get him at a discount in this year’s fantasy drafts.

What’s your take? Do you think Nick Markakis will return to form?

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