Markakis voted Orioles' MVP for 2009
Roberts a close second in polling of players, Trembley
TORONTO -- The Orioles have spoken, and they've chosen Nick Markakis as their Most Valuable Player in an informal but comprehensive polling of the clubhouse. More than 20 players and the team's manager responded to a recent survey regarding the team's MVP, and Markakis edged Brian Roberts by a single vote.
And if that wasn't close enough, a closer inspection of the ballot makes the point even clearer. Six players opted to split their choice between Markakis and Roberts, and one even divvied his choice between those two and Adam Jones. Jones and Brad Bergesen were the only other players to receive a single vote.
Jeremy Guthrie, who opted to cut his ballot into thirds, explained why the polling was so close.
"Each of them have done so much for the team, and all of them are so important that losing them would have a dramatic effect," he said. "We see that now with Jones sidelined. And they all play key positions for us. Start to finish, Nick's had a very solid season defensively and offensively. Brian's shown again why he's so important to our team, setting the table for us all year and having a tremendous second half. Adam Jones has obviously had a breakout season and he's showed a lot of the potential that everyone saw in him."
Markakis has played in all but one game this year, and his durability was a consistent theme running through most of the votes in his favor. Several players also noted that Markakis has moved in the batting order and hasn't always had support behind him, and they also credited his ability to hit for average and to drive in runs.
"I'd have to say Nick," said Roberts. "Certainly, his numbers are good. When you talk about hitting close to .300 with 100 RBIs, that's a pretty good season for anybody. And he's been on the field every day. I think consistency is a big factor, and Nick's someone you can count on to be out there every single day. There are some other guys who have had good years, but they've had injuries and they haven't been able to be out there all the time."
Markakis, who's batting .293 with 16 home runs and 94 RBIs, has seen most of his rate stats dip below his career averages. The former first-round Draft pick has had an extended September slump that has neutralized some of his power and average, but his teammates graded him on his consistent presence throughout the year.
Interestingly, Markakis voted for Roberts, and he used the same criteria that ultimately won him support.
"I'd go with Brian because of what he's done," Markakis said. "And the biggest part is him going out there every day and playing through the pain. It's a battle, and I know it because I do it every day, too. I know what it feels like, and I know what it takes to go through growing pains and go through tough seasons, and I see that in Brian."
Markakis wasn't alone in that logic, and manager Dave Trembley went further in his praise.
"I think he's more than just a leadoff hitter," Trembley said of Roberts. "I think he's a run-scorer and he's certainly shown to be a run-producer. He's reliable and experienced. I think that without question him and Markakis are the two constants on this team, but I give it to Roberts because he's got more experience. I think it's much harder to fill his slot at second base -- a switch-hitter that's going to score 100 runs -- than it is for Markakis. That's not a knock on anyone, but what he does for our club is extremely obvious and would be very difficult to replace."
Multiple players indicated that they would've voted for Jones if only he hadn't been sidelined by injury for more than a month of the season. Veteran swingman Mark Hendrickson elected to vote for Bergesen, who's missed time with an injury of his own, and he crafted a compelling case for why he came to that decision.
"For a young guy, I thought he pitched very well," said Hendrickson of Bergesen. "From a bullpen standpoint, you knew that when he was starting, there was a good chance he'd go deep in the game."
Several players also responded to a query regarding the team's biggest surprise, and Felix Pie emerged with the most support. Pie, who came over in an offseason trade with the Cubs, flopped during April and May in regular playing time and had to rebuild a case for a starting job through performance on a part-time basis.
"Felix came into a tough situation where he wasn't playing and just getting pinch-hits here and there," said Markakis. "To see what he's done the past month or two, it's reminding me of myself in my first season. He came up, he was a hot prospect in the Cubs organization, got traded. Then he came over here and wasn't playing, but when he got the opportunity, he's done a real good job on offense and defense. He's come a long way."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.