ATLANTA -- As Nick Markakis has spent the past couple months putting himself in good position to gain his first All-Star selection, he has provided a glimpse of what he's capable of doing when near full strength -- a status that has infrequently applied to him dating back to 2012.•
ATLANTA -- As Nick Markakis has spent the past couple months putting himself in good position to gain his first All-Star selection, he has provided a glimpse of what he's capable of doing when near full strength -- a status that has infrequently applied to him dating back to 2012.
• VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot
"Once you have significant injuries and go under the knife, it takes time," said Markakis, who has dealt with offseason surgeries and injuries in recent years. "A lot of work goes into it. The past couple years, I've been able to build on it and strengthen myself. Here I am today -- I feel almost as good as I've ever felt on a baseball field."
There is no reason to dispute this self-assessment made by Markakis, who entered June leading the National League in hits. The 34-year-old outfielder is also ranked second among all NL outfielders in Weighted Runs Created Plus and Fangraphs' WAR model, and he is third in OPS among NL outfielders.
So, when All-Star balloting began Friday, there was reason to anticipate Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies will not be the only Braves players garnering serious consideration to be voted one of the NL starters for this summer's Midsummer Classic. The social-media world has provided strong indication that Braves' fans are going to do whatever they can to help Markakis be a part of that starting lineup.
"That would be just great, if that happened," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's been one of the best and most consistent hitters in the National League, from Day One. He's that engine that makes the thing run. He's dependable and you can count on him."
Markakis is about to become the first player since World War II to have 2,000 hits, 400 doubles, 1,000 runs (he entered Friday with 999) and zero career All-Star appearances. His counting stats might be even more impressive had two separate hand injuries not cost him three months of the 2012 season.
Then in 2013 with the Orioles, Markakis was bothered by a herniated disc that forced him to undergo a significant neck surgery just after he signed with the Braves in December of 2014. He met his goal of being in Atlanta's Opening Day lineup a little more than three months later, and he leads the Majors in outfield innings logged since the start of the 2015 season.
While Markakis remained dedicated over the past three seasons, this season has certainly been different than any of the first three with the Braves.
"First and foremost, I'm happy to be healthy," Markakis said. "We all know if you're not healthy, you can't contribute to the baseball activities. I'm happy I'm healthy and I'm happy the team is playing as well as it is right now."
Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.
Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.