Nick Markakis was not a Hall of Famer. But he was pretty close. He was not a great hitter; he was just a professional. That is what Atlanta Braves fans should and will remember about Markakis during his time with Atlanta.

It was a privilege to see him suit up for the Atlanta Braves for six seasons. Braves fans always knew what to expect when their right fielder stepped into the box.

It was almost a given that Markakis could be counted on to start in right field. He played 162 games in 2018, 160 in 2017, 158 in 2016 and 156 in 2015. The only time Markakis' status was in doubt was last year when he initially opted out of playing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But he returned to play 37 games.

At the plate, Markakis was a career .288 hitter. Again, not a standout but a little better than average. His 2,388 career hits have Markakis ranked 127th in Major League Baseball history. That total is better than Ryne Sandberg, Barry Larkin, Jim Thome and Kirby Puckett – all Hall of Famers.

Again, I'm not saying Markakis is a Hall of Famer. A baseball player worthy of Hall of Fame status should be a no-brainer. When you put them and Hall of Fame in the same sentence, it's not a typo. It makes sense.

Think about who among today's MLB stars have already cemented their place in the Hall of Fame – Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera. 

Just as soon as those players call it a career, Cooperstown will come calling them.

Markakis' best season with the Braves was in 2018 when he batted .297 with 14 home runs and 93 RBIs. He was an All-Star and finished 18th in the Most Valuable Player voting. 

For his career, Markakis won three Gold Glove Awards. His 514 doubles rank 54th on the all-time list. Also in an era where it seems like it's all or nothing, Markakis rarely struck out. Only four times did he tally more than 100 strikeouts in a season.

It's been nice having him patrol right field for the last six season. Consistency was a trait Braves fans could count on. Was it a Hall of Fame career? Probably not. Was he the consummate professional? Absolutely.

Clint Thompson is a special contributor to the Valdosta Daily Times.

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