ATLANTA With history on the line and his family waving signs in the SunTrust Park stands, the left-handed Nick Markakis stared down an undesirable matchup: All-Star southpaw Alex Wood. After falling behind in the count, the Dodgers standouts second pitch was a low-90s fastball catching far too much of the plate and Markakis reacted in familiar fashion, sending the pitch to the opposite field as the ballparks lights quickly dimmed and fireworks went off.
The veteran right fielder became the 285th player to ever log 2,000 career major-league hits on Thursday night with that trademark inside-out swing.
Markakis ranks 10th among active players in hits directly behind Tigers veteran Victor Martinez, boasting a career .288 batting average and .358 on-base percentage. Throughout his 12 big-league seasons, hes been the model of low-key consistency: Of the top 31 active hits leaders, the Braves right fielder is the only one to never make a single All-Star appearance.
In the modern era, only Juan Pierre, Orlando Cabrera, Todd Zeile and Tony Phillips have finished their career with 2,000 hits and zero All-Star appearances. Here's the active leaderboard:
Markakis could soon find familiar company in the 2,000-Hit Club. Atlantas veteran infielder Brandon Phillips entered Thursdays game 32 hits shy of the milestone while Matt Kemp could reach the mark in the next few seasons. Former teammate and Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski
The product of Woodstock, Ga., and Young Harris College logged the vast majority of his career knocks with the Baltimore Orioles, who selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft. Prior to signing a four-year contract with the Braves at the starting line of John Hart and John Coppolellas rebuilding effort, the 6-foot-1 outfielder compiled 1,547 hits combined with 141 home runs and two Gold Glove awards in Baltimore.
Since joining his hometown team before the 2015 campaign, Markakis is slashing .282/.361/.386 with 123 extra-base hits. Hes under contract through the 2018 season.
At 33 years old, Markakis is the youngest of the top 18 active hits leaders meaning he has plenty of time to continue climbing the ladder. If he continues at his current pace (175 hits per 162 games in a Braves uniform) for, by conservative estimate, the next 200 games until re-entering free agency next year, hed surpass Hall of Famed Joe DiMaggios final tally before his 35th birthday with a shot at jumping into the top-100 on the career hits list with 2,500 base knocks.