Photo courtesy of MLB.com.
Ozzie Albies is this season’s breakout star. The Atlanta Braves second baseman is tied for the home run lead in the Majors with 13, and is a contender for the NL MVP award. This is pretty impressive considering this is his first full season and he was never projected to be a power hitter in the Minors. The question is whether his breakout is sustainable or not?
Let’s start by looking at the basics: Albies is batting .277/.312/.588 with a .376 wOBA. We can already see that he’s not an elite contact hitter, and that he walks at a below average level. His wOBA is above average but not on an elite level either. Looking deeper, his BB% is 4.2% which is not very good to say the least, though we already knew that it wasn’t going to be impressive due to his .312 OBP. He’s barely walking which shows impatience at the plate and implies that we shouldn’t expect a high batting average from him any time soon. His K% is 18.4% however, which shows us that his inability to draw walks isn’t due to a high strikeout rate. In other words he’s generally putting balls in play. His BABIP is perhaps surprisingly .275, which implies that he’s not getting lucky either. That said, his ISO is an unsustainable .311, that combined with his 34.5% Hardhit% indicates that he’s not really a power hitter. A look at his HR/FB% makes it even more obvious: 21.0% is more than double his highest previous rates of 8.2% (from last season) and 7.6% (his highest rate in the Minors).
Albies swings at pitches outside the strike zone at a 35.8% rate, and surprisingly connects 76.1% of the time. This seems to be based on luck in my opinion. He swings a lot at pitches inside the zone too (80.0%), but connects at a surprisingly below average 84.8% rate. He clearly swings at an above average rate with a 54.9% Swing%. He also hits more fly balls (43.1 FB%) than ground balls (36.1 GB%).
What does all of this information ultimately tell us about him? It tells us that Albies has poor plate discipline, swings too often, doesn’t hit particularly hard, and has an unsustainable ISO, HR/FB% and in my opinion Z-Contact%. In short, he’s not going to keep up this pace all season. His fly balls are going to be caught more often, which in turn will lower his batting average and OBP. A .255- .270 batting average with an OBP below .300 are very likely going forward. My guess for Albies is that he finishes with 20-23 home runs and a batting line of .265/.295/.440. Albies has speed and is a decent defender (0.1 defensive rWAR), but he’s nowhere near as good offensively as he is now.