Markakis retires after 15 MLB seasons

March 12th, 2021

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nick Markakis, the All-Star outfielder who won three Gold Gloves and collected 2,388 hits for the Orioles and Braves, has retired after 15 Major League seasons.

“I just think it’s my time,” Markakis told The Athletic (subscription required). “My No. 1 decision and my main focus on this is obviously my kids and my family. I’ve been fortunate enough to do this for a very long time and not many people get to do what I’ve gone through. I’m thankful for every second and every minute.”

Durable and consistent, Markakis hit .288/.357/.423 with 1,119 runs, 514 doubles and 189 home runs in 2,154 big league games from 2006-20. He appeared in 2,074 games in right field, eighth most in MLB history. Markakis, 37, last played in the ’20 postseason for Atlanta. He earned his lone All-Star nod, as well as his final Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards, for the Braves in 2018.

“Thank you for the memories, the hustle, and your countless contributors to this organization,” the Orioles tweeted. “Best of luck in your next chapter, Nick!”

“We wish you all the best in your retirement, Nick!” The Braves tweeted.

The Orioles’ first-round pick (seventh overall) out of Young Harris College in 2003, Markakis emerged as a steady, productive presence for nearly a decade in Baltimore, hitting .290/.358/.435 across nine seasons.

He played at least 155 games in seven of those campaigns, posting at least a .290 average and/or on-base percentage of at least .350 in six of them. Markakis won Gold Glove awards in 2011 and ’14, and he helped the Orioles snap their 17-year playoff drought in 2012. He did not play that October, however, due to a broken hand.

Two years later, Markakis relished another playoff opportunity. In 2014, his homer off then-Tigers ace Justin Verlander in Game 2 of the American League Division Series propelled the O’s to the AL Championship Series for the third time in the past 36 years.

Markakis left for Atlanta on a four-year, $44 million free-agent contract in 2015, ultimately hitting .283/.357/.402 over the next six seasons as the Braves rebuilt themselves into a force in the National League East. He earned his sole All-Star nod in 2018 and remained a respected clubhouse leader for an Atlanta team that claimed the past three NL East titles, reaching the NL Championship Series in 2020. Markakis told The Athletic he decided to retire after the Braves lost that series to the Dodgers in six games.

“It was just a great career. I felt honored to be able to manage him for the last few years of his career,” Braves skipper Brian Snitker said. “Coming in every day, you knew what you were going to get. He’s a flatline pro. There weren’t any highs and lows. It was business as usual every day. He was just a consummate pro with everything he did.”

In Orioles history, only four players played at least as many games as Markakis (1,365) and reached base at a higher clip (.358): Ken Singleton, Eddie Murray, Brady Anderson and Boog Powell. Markakis also holds the franchise records for games, starts and innings logged in right field, and the MLB record for consecutive errorless games by an outfielder (398). Only five right fielders recorded more career putouts in MLB history. 

Markakis’ career total of 2,388 hits -- two more than Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg -- ranks him 127th in MLB history.

“I remember Nick in the South Atlantic League in 2003, coaching against him,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said. “He was a young stud left-handed hitter. I was so impressed with him way back then and he had an amazing career.

"Everybody who was ever around him in this clubhouse speaks so highly of him from a leadership standpoint, about what kind of teammate he was. He meant a lot to the people who are still here who were around the years he played here. He had a heck of a career.”