Righthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Second Baseman
Seasons With Braves: 2001-06
Stats With Braves: .285 .361 .448, 72 HR, 294 RBI, 416 RS
My favorite player had a bad year, but to put it in perspective, it would have been a decent year for Hubbard or Millan and a career year for Lemke. Marcus is — by far — the best career offensive second baseman in a Braves uniform since the team moved to Atlanta, probably the best since Bobby Lowe (not counting Hornsby’s one year). And he’s a pretty good fielder, too.
Marcus was a 53rd round pick (the entire draft only goes 50 rounds now) out of a California JUCO in 1996, signed as a draft-and-follow the next May. He’d been an outfielder, but the Braves couldn’t take anyone that short (5-8, right!) in the outfield and moved him to second base. He was — in retrospect — probably a little too advanced for the leagues he played in in the minors. In rookie ball, he hit .348. In 1998, in Macon, he hit .329/.433/.636 and was the Sally League MVP. In 1999, he was the MVP of the Carolina League, hitting .326/.393/.513 for Myrtle Beach. In Greenville, he hit “only” .290/.388/.472. There were a lot of questions about his defense, and given his size a move to first base seemed out of the question, but it was clear that Marcus could hit.
Giles split time between Richmond and Atlanta the next two years. On a couple of occasions I’ve written that what seems inexplicable now presumably made sense at the time. But I was there for 2001-02 and I still don’t understand what happened there. Quilvio Veras opened 2001 as the regular second baseman, but it soon became clear that his injuries had finally overcame him. But instead of sticking the hot prospect at second and leaving him alone, the Braves kept going back to Keith Lockhart for some reason. This was bad enough, if not too unusual. The 2002 season was simply stupid, as Lockhart was allowed to play in a career high 128 games while hitting .216/.282/.331. Marcus didn’t play well, but even .230/.315/.399 looks good next to Lockhart. Also, it’s hard to hit when you’re constantly being jerked around. There wasn’t even a defensive angle here: Marcus had been working with Glenn Hubbard and was already a better defensive player. During this period, this banner was usually up on an older version of this site:
Anyway, after 2002 Schuerholz finally took Bobby’s blankie away and, after trying during spring training to see if he could play Mark DeRosa instead, Bobby finally put Marcus in the lineup and left him alone. All Giles did was hit .316/.390/.526 and make the All-Star team. At the end of the season, I wondered if he might get better; it seemed to me that his ratio of doubles to homers (49:21) was unusual and that they might approach parity, making him a 30-HR guy. As it turns out, 2003 appears to have been a career year.
Marcus still hit .311 in 2004, despite missing 60 games to injury, but lost a lot of his power. In 2005, his average dropped a little but some of the power returned. Last season, he had the aforementioned bad year. Some of that is injuries, and it’s likely that Marcus has lost something that he’ll never quite recover. Some was probably bad luck.