Sil­ver Slug­ger crowns Markakis' stel­lar year

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - SPORTS - By Gabriel Burns gabriel.burns@ajc.com

Braves right fielder Nick Markakis won the Sil­ver Slug­ger award Thurs­day night for the first time, cap­ping what’s con­sid­ered the most cel­e­brated sea­son of the 34-yearold’s ca­reer thus far.

The Sil­ver Slug­ger award is given to the top of­fen­sive play­ers at each po­si­tion, voted on by man­agers and coaches.

Markakis was named to his first All-Star game in 2018 and also won the Gold Glove for his de­fen­sive ef­forts. He played a piv­otal role on and off the field in the Braves’ sur­pris­ing run to 90 wins and a di­vi­sion ti­tle.

The vet­eran, now a free agent, com­piled a .297 bat­ting av­er­age with 43 dou­bles, 78 runs scored and 93 RBIs. He was one of two play­ers in the ma­jors who started all 162 games this sea­son, only the fifth Brave to do so.

Markakis’ 43 dou­bles ranked third in the Na­tional League. He was the first player in Braves fran­chise his­tory to col­lect at least 35 dou­bles in four con­sec­u­tive sea­sons.

And he did it all from the cleanup spot. Markakis’ power pro­file made him an un­ortho­dox match hit- ting be­hind Fred­die Free- man, but he han­dled the spot well, even on open­ing day when his three-run homer de­feated the Phillies.

“I’m very hon­ored to be named a Sil­ver Slug­ger award win­ner,” Markakis said in a state­ment pro­vided by the team. “It means a lot to be rec­og­nized by man­agers and coaches across the league, but I am par­tic­u­larly proud that I was able to con­trib­ute to the over­all suc­cess of our team.”

Markakis’ award comes on the heels of Fred­die Free­man be­ing named Wil­son de­fen­sive player of the year at first base. The honor comes shortly after he won the Gold Glove for first base in the Na­tional League, ty­ing Anthony Rizzo to split the dis­tinc­tion.

Free­man has long been one of the best de­fend­ers at his po­si­tion de­spite a lack of ac­knowl­edg­ment. In 2018, he pro­duced 12 de­fen­sive runs saved and a 7.8 ul­ti­mate zone rat­ing, both best among el­i­gi­ble NL first base­men.

“It’s a great honor to win the Wil­son De­fen­sive Player of the Year Award,” Free­man said in a state­ment. “De­fense plays such an im­por­tant part in win­ning games, and as an or­ga­ni­za­tion we had a goal com­ing into this sea­son to im­prove ours. We are thank­ful for the ef­forts of our an­a­lyt­ics de­part­ment, and for our coaches who ded­i­cated time to work­ing with us ev­ery

to help us get bet­ter.” The Braves hadn’t had a Wil­son de­fen­sive player of the year since An­drel­ton Sim­mons won the award three times (2013-15).

CUR­TIS COMP­TON / CCOMP­TON@AJC.COM

Nick Markakis was a first­time All-Star this sea­son, and now he has Sil­ver Slug­ger and Gold Glove awards, too.

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