Player Spotlight: Ozzie Albies
I’m going to be spotlighting a couple players per position that I find especially interesting each week. These are going to be more of a stat based, analytical deep dive on a specific player. The projections next to the player names are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS projection systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 1/01/2019-02/19/2019. Ozzie Albies had a break out 2018 but not in the way we thought. What kind of player is he for 2019?
Ozzie Albies, ATL (ADP 58): 657 AB, 89 R, 20 HR, 78 RBI, 17 SB, .273/.324/.453/.777
Throughout his time as a prospect, Albies was known for his hit tool and speed. The knock on him from a fantasy perspective was the lack of power that was sure to plague the 5’9” middle infielder. That’s not the profile you’d expect for a player who has hit 30 home runs and stolen just 22 bases in his first 215 big league games. Albies is one of the most interesting players going into the 2019 season because of the gap in his scouting report and the results. There are also major questions regarding his second half stats from last season.
If Jose Altuve has taught us anything it’s that height doesn’t measure power. Power is about hitting mechanics and bat speed so even the shortest player (Altuve) can hit 20+ home runs. The fact that Albies as grown into above average power is less surprising now than it would have been 20 years ago. He burst onto the scene at the end of 2017 and carried that over to one of the best first months any hitter had in 2018. He hit 9 March/April home runs with a .293 batting average, immediately rewarding owners who drafted him in the 12th round. While not keeping up that torrid pace, he still ended the first half hitting .281/.318/.516/.834 with 20 HR and 9 SB in 432 PA.
What Albies did in the second half of 2018 has people more concerned than his diminutive stature ever did. He slashed .226/.282/.342/.624 with 4 HR and 5 SB in 252 PA. His hard hit rate dropped from 38.5% in the first half to 27% in the second. Often times fatigue can be a factor for young players making their first trip through the league but Albies actually had more combined PA’s in 2017 between AAA and MLB than he did in 2018. With that in mind and no apparent injury to point towards, it’s likely that pitchers made adjustments to Albies. It’s now up to him to adjust back to the pitchers. That’s what good players do. He’s only 21, after all, so there’s a strong chance he makes adjustments.
Now for the million dollar question. Is Albies a safe bet to match his production from 2018? My answer is… murky. I’m confident that Ozzie Albies will be a good fantasy asset this season but I just don’t know in which way. The reason I’m continuing to buy him is that if his power falls off, he has a strong hit tool and blazing speed to fall back on. A season with a similar slash line to his 2018 but 15 home runs and 30 steals is very possible and very valuable. There are just more ways for Albies’ 2019 to go right than wrong in my opinion. And who knows? Maybe the power and speed will both click and he’s a 30-30 superstar