2022 Player Review: Ozzie Albies

Is there anybody who doesn’t love Ozhaino Jurdy Jiandro Albies? In an age where a lot of players are hard to like, Ozzie isn’t one of them. He has an obvious competitive fire; he’s a tireless worker; he keeps teammates loose; he smiles a lot; he produces good results; he does all this on a modest (by MLB standards) salary. He earned everybody in America a free taco (if you can call a Taco Bell taco a taco.) Everybody likes him.

But you folks know all that. (Well, maybe you didn’t know he has a brother named Zhhihir, but now you do. I’ll wait on Chip’s pronunciation before I give it a try.) Let’s see if we can get critical of somebody everybody likes.

Progress

2022 was pretty much a lost season.  He started slow, never really got his stroke, broke his foot swinging the bat and then broke a pinky one day after returning from the broken foot.  One broken foot doesn’t make you injury-prone, but breaking a foot while swinging the bat is an unusual enough injury to at least make you take notice.  And of course Ozzie is one of those guys who doesn’t want to take a day off.  Will his body be able to hold up to 150+ games per season?  The man is tough, and he won’t turn 26 until next month, but he’s only listed at 165 lbs.  Ozzie’s about the same size as Jose Altuve, who, after playing virtually full-time from 2012-2017, now plays about 140 games per year.  Again, if you told me now that Ozzie will average 140 games a year for the next 5 years I’ll be thrilled, but it does suggest lower production than his top production.

Ozzie was a 4 WAR player in 2018 and a 5 WAR player in 2019. Since then, though, his progress has stagnated and even fallen back a bit. Let’s ignore 2020. In 2021, though, he fell back to 3.4 WAR even as he won the 2nd baseman Silver Slugger. An .800 OPS is just fine and I would drool to have that be his standard of performance, but it certainly falls short of his .852 in 2019. But it is not impossible that we have already seen Ozzie’s best offensive year. Or, he could be just entering the prime of his career.

Switch Hitting

But these are quibbles. The big question is Ozzie’s left-handed swing. He now has a career 1993 plate appearances against right hand pitchers as a left handed batter. His career OPS as a lefty is .741. Now .741 isn’t bad, but it ain’t great. It’s Kolten Wong territory, not Dustin Pedroia territory.

By contrast, when he bats right handed, he OPSes .919 (admittedly in far fewer plate appearances – just over 700.) That substantially exceeds Pedroia. It’s 90 points higher than Jose Altuve. Indeed, it exceeds the best-hitting second baseman of this millennium: Robbie Canó. Heck – it’s better than the only two second basemen better than Canó: Charlie Gehringer and Eddie Collins.

Of course, you can’t just start hitting right-handed all the time.  I’m sure Ozzie has thought about it, but has discovered that his bat speed right-handed against right-handers is too slow to catch up to MLB fastballs.  That’s why substantially all of his right handed at-bats against right-handers have come against position players and guys throwing junk. But it’s not like he hasn’t had success:

Ozzie is going to face right handed pitchers in over 70 percent of his at bats.  If there’s anything he can do to improve his performance from the left side of the plate, he ought to focus on that. Or pick a few more right-handers to experiment. He strikes out 18.7% of the time against right-handers, over 20% in 2021. (It’s under 14 percent against lefties.)

Summing Up

There is, as far as I can tell, nothing that means the next five years of Ozzie’s career won’t be five of the greatest years any second baseman has ever had. He has that potential. And he’s got the makeup to achieve that potential. (Potential isn’t everything, though. Just ask Dan Uggla or Marcus Giles.) And all Braves fans are rooting for him. But as Joaquin Andujar memorably said: “You can sum up baseball in two words: You never know.”

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

50 thoughts on “2022 Player Review: Ozzie Albies”

  1. In the five(?) games that he played after coming back from the broken foot, he looked like more patient hitter. A tiny sample size I know, but I liked what I saw. Wash has said that if he learned patience, he’ll take things to the next level. Sitting and watching for an extended period can help a player. We’ll see.

  2. My favorite current Brave. I can’t help thinking the playoffs might have turned out a little differently with him around. Oh well, here’s hoping for the best for Ozzie in 2023.

  3. Yep, Ozzie brings joy to the game. That’s no small thing.

    He doesn’t really walk enough, so I’m still not crazy about him hitting near the top of the order, but he adds real depth to the lineup. Ultimately, what’s not to like?

    On Tacos…
    In a pinch, Taco Bell tacos are just fine, like if you’re on Victory Drive in Columbus buzzed & starving at 2 a.m. Been awhile, but I’ve been there…

    Nonetheless, it took a good chunk of my lifetime to realize that those hard-shell Taco Bell tacos — and school-lunchroom tacos, for that matter — are no match for genuine Mexican tacos, the real deal.

    On the Florida Gators…
    I’m certainly no Bull Gator & it doesn’t break my heart to see UF struggling to avoid its second consecutive losing season, but if you’re gonna go to one of those “lower bowls,” I’ll take the Las Vegas Bowl every time. It sure beats any trip to Shreveport.

    #4
    A serious bummer, but one we were all bracing for. We’ll miss you, Dansby. Now we just gotta beat you.

  4. Meh, I think it’s a fair contract given the market. The Braves obviously did not care for him at that price. Both are defensible. Onward and upward.

  5. I would kick the tires on Andrus for a 1 year deal before giving the keys to Grissom. I think he needs another year of development.

  6. It’s maybe a year or two longer than I would have gone, but the AAV is about what I expected. I guess it’s time to see what Plan B is.

    I’ve never been hugely confident in Swanson’s bat, but he did just put up a six win season, and you don’t find those lying around. I will be extremely disappointed if the team sits on its hands for the rest of the winter.

  7. Sad to see Dansby leave. Wish him well except Ofers whenever they play the Braves. Hoped as an Atl native he’d wear the laundry for his entire career but I wouldn’t have given him the contract he got either. AA is not done.
    Gators lost badly. 12-17 in their last 29 games. Yikes. Napier seems like a good coach, and is at least an adult unlike his predecessor. FL has a long way to go to be relevant again in the SEC but as we’ve seen in Knoxville the right coach, and catching lightning in a bottle via the transfer portal, can turn things around rather quickly.

  8. I think the Braves are done. Barring a late spring, last minute FA contract for someone like Taylor Rogers or Michael Conforto. Should have known that AA always finishes early; this season being the extensions. I wouldn’t count on Max hanging around unless he takes an in season extension.

    I don’t think AA will sign another big time FA until the Ozuna contract ends. The Braves are just never going to spend their way out of problems.

  9. @12 Yeah, I think you’re right – Fangraphs has the luxury tax payroll at ~$229M and the tax begins at $233M. I don’t think we’re spending any more money this offseason.

    Luckily Ozuna’s contract ends when Fried becomes a free agent so hopefully we can use those savings to keep him long term.

  10. Exactly what you want to hear in the middle of your window: Maybe in two or three years we’ll make an effort to improve the team.

  11. I really think even with the team as constituted we are a WS contender. That’s really all you can ask. Of course I’m one who subscribes to the playoffs is a crapshoot.

  12. Justin Toscano mentioned the 6/140 counter in his piece tonight, so I think that rumor is credible.

    Maybe the Braves 1) misjudged the market and thought he wasn’t getting that anywhere or 2) they just did not value him at more than $16-18MM a year under any circumstances.

    Swanson has about 15 WAR for his career and a third of that came last year. If he’s suddenly a 5 WAR player, the deal is a steal for the Cubs. If he’s more of the 2-3 WAR player before 2022, then it’s just an average deal.

  13. I believe in overpaying our key guys. I think they’re worth more to us than they are to a competitor, because I do think continuity has an intangible value.

    AA seems to believe value is value, and doesn’t want to outbid the market, which almost by definition is always going to pay a player more than his “true” value.

    AA knows a heckuva lot more about baseball than I do. He has a ring to prove it. I’ll trust his judgment. But I hate seeing our guys leave.

  14. I wish Braves never mentioned that they were gonna spend to improve club .. it wasn’t true .. they haven’t spent any money in free agency .. and watched both the Phils and Mets improve while we got worse .. playing for 3rd place .. you can count on the Braves to not ever roll the dice and go big …

  15. @19 They did spend, though…. on Morton, on extensions. Already 6th or so highest payroll. And FG considers us one of the best teams in the game. It would be nice to have the perfect team but no one will ever have that. If either or both of Rosario or Ozuna have a bounce back year, we are going to be a great team.

  16. @19, the Mets had to spend to replace departures or keep guys in the fold. It’s not obvious to me that they’re better than the 2022 team and their starting pitching is fraught with risk (Verlander and Scherzer are pushing 40, and Senga has never pitched in MLB). The Phillies are better but they’re not as good as the Braves or Mets (on paper). Right now, the Braves are only down Swanson and Jansen. There was not much work for AA to get done this off-season.

  17. “Not much” still isn’t “none.”

    The Braves have a good team. They’re probably good enough to make the postseason. But I hate the “good enough” attitude in sports. Anyone can get better. If you can get better, you should be getting better.

    It doesn’t help that the Braves have been publicly spinning the whole “not afraid of the luxury tax” and “top five payroll” angles in the media. If if both are technically true (the Braves were pretty close to top five before spending a dime this offseason, and just because you’re willing to go past the luxury tax line doesn’t mean you’re obligated to), they’re disingenuous. They indicate to fans that they’re looking to improve the team. If, two months later, they’ve come to the conclusion that improving the team is too expensive, fans have a right to feel betrayed.

    And, like, go look at next year’s free agent market sometime. Not very many opportunities to improve there, either, unless you intend to bid on Ohtani (who would actually be a perfect fit roster-wise, but they’ll never spend at that level in a million years). So don’t count on any upgrades there either. Then Fried’s gone. Then Murphy’s gone. Then Wright’s gone. Then your amazing core starts to drift away… You can’t play hardball with free agents forever if you’re shedding a major free agent every offseason and trading all your prospects.

  18. The last time the Cubs took a premier free agent from the Braves they paid 8/184 for Jason Heyward, another native Georgian. That contract still has another year to run, with $20 million still owed on a deferred basis, although Heyward has been cut loose and the Dodgers will pay him less than a million this year.

    Signing Jason Heyward made the Cubs a worse team. Being signed by the Cubs, lucrative as it was to Jason Heyward, did him no baseball favors. I’m not one to tell Dansby what he should think about tradeoffs between millions of dollars and a very cozy situation in Atlanta. That’s his call, and he’s made it. I hope he’s happy with it in the fullness of time.

  19. I’m not saying Swanson worth 25 mil for 7 yrs .. I’m glad they didn’t pay that … but I’d have paid for the other 3 ss’s …. we need another piece in LF … or give Andrus a 1 yr deal

  20. Good for Dansby, and no, we don’t have a SS, and the Olsen and Murphy trades look bad in the rearview mirror.
    But unless 2022 Dansby shows up, it’s a bad contract. I could see 30 hrs, 190 k’s and a sub 800 ops.

  21. I think it makes sense AA didn’t want to give him 25 mill. He’s clearly trying to build a team that had a chance for many years to come. That becomes increasingly hard if you have to pay 25 mill for 3 WAR at SS.

  22. I’m guessing AA was gonna wait till Swanson made choice before proceeding .. hopefully plan B is coming…

  23. Freeman and Swanson both wanted to be here and could have signed extensions before getting to free agency. Instead we’ve blown most of our trade capital and the team is seemingly worse on paper than last season. There’s plenty of time for signings to round out the bench but position player depth looks awful. You can’t expect Grissom to play 162 like Dansby.

    Andrus will be in high demand now and I can’t see us giving him a large deal, even for one year.

  24. This one hurts worse than Freddie and I’m not gonna choose to be rationale about it. Hate it, don’t make like it.

  25. Interesting, this one doesn’t really bother me all that much. The Freddie situation still bothers me.

  26. @23

    This is the crux of the matter. So I’m happy for Swanson that he got paid and he’s now set for life. He will always be the guy who got the final out in 2021.

    But…

    I find it difficult to believe that a move from the Braves to the Cubs is anything more than financial. Maybe he felt he was worth more than what the Braves were willing to pay – whatever that was in terms of years and dollars. To Rob’s point, I don’t like it either. But I don’t like it from a “disappointed in the decision that has been made perspective”.

  27. I’m with @32 on this.

    I also remember the “give Ozuna his money” chatter. Sometimes these signings do not work out.

    @23 Cubs signed Heyward away from the Cardinals. But it’s still a very good point.

    I think Vaughn Grissom is going to surprise us. It took Kyle Wright some time. Give Vaughn some leash to adjust.

  28. I don’t really see Heyward’s career going differently if he had stayed with the Braves — not that they’d have paid him, as they were in full tank mode at the time. (Or the Cardinals, for that matter.) Also, he was a member of the immortal curse-breaking Cubs, so I doubt he’d take it back even if by some chance his personal numbers might have been better elsewhere.

    Heyward’s a weird case, because while he never reached the heights of stardom everyone expected of him, he was still an effective all-around player, with his glove carrying a lot of the weight. Even as a free agent there was a belief that there was still some additional potential in his bat… but it turned out that no, there wasn’t.

    We’re in firm “we’ll see” territory regarding Grissom, but I will say that installing him as the starting shortstop has much more downside potential than letting a young pitcher take his lumps. It is by no means guaranteed that he can hit or field enough for the position, and if he can’t, it’s a huge disaster.

  29. I’m a PIE guy (Passion, Intensity, Enthusiasm). Just my personality. So I’m always gonna gravitate to guys that have positive energy without being a red ass jerk. I don’t know if we’ve had a player who fit that description ever as well as Dansby did. Simple fan preference, and it doesn’t mean Dansby is a better ballplayer than Freddie.

    It softened the blow that Freddie just, frankly, did the stupid thing and took a few more coins from the guy down the street. He’s also from California. So I saw that coming even during his walk year. Dansby loves Atlanta, and he became a free agent in the ONE year where he was gonna get stupid money thrown at him, and Atlanta has been smart to not play that game. Had he became a FA last year or next year, we probably have a better shot at signing him. It just sucks that these are the circumstances.

    It also sucks that this is now the second year in a row we’re losing a core leader of the team, and that sucks too.

  30. I’m with Rob — a thing that sucks a lot has happened and I’m not cool with it. We have a terrific core and a phenomenal general manager and will have a very strong team next year, but we just lost a very good player at a position for which both the internal and external alternatives are bad. I’m glad Dansby got paid, and I know that for him it’s less about the money and more about the respect, and I can understand why he may have felt disrespected by the Braves’ undermarket offer. Every other shortstop made around $300 million in this market; he asked the Braves for $140 and they countered with $100.

    It’s also hard to feel like the Morton contract wasn’t standing in the way of re-signing Dansby, which feels doubly hard to swallow, as that clearly felt like a slight overpay but also represents almost the entire amount between Dansby’s salary and the Braves’ cushion under the luxury tax.

    This sucks. It seemed like a slow motion car wreck we could see from a mile off, but it still sucks and it’s not gonna not suck.

  31. The Freeman thing still hurts more as he could have signed for the same money as with the Dodgers and losing him triggered the waterfall of farm trade-off. I’m thinking Freeman and Langeliers (with Contreras at DH) would have been better than Olson and Murphy plus the assets we lost. Dansby may also be a casualty of that sequence (or not). Maybe we could have used the same assets to trade for Reynolds or Adames. But the Freeman brouhaha started the whole chain of events. Not only did the Braves suffer but the Dodgers, Brewers, and A’s benefitted.

    And that’s not to take anything away from Olson and Murphy, just to say there was another path.

  32. Too early to tell with any finality who “won” the Freeman chain of events. Olson is several years younger. And yea, the fact that he netted less to go to LA (taxes) makes it easier to swallow because AA can justify his offer; Freddie can’t justify his/his agent’s stupid decision.

  33. Freeman may not have “won,” but the Braves certainly did not. They ended up with a worse player for barely any less money and had to pay a substantial prospect package for the privilege, the echoes of which are still being felt.

    No one handled the Freeman situation well (except maybe the Dodgers), but the fact that Freddie didn’t get as much money as he had hoped doesn’t change the fact that AA flubbed it pretty badly.

  34. Are we still blaming the Braves for Freeman leaving? Yawn. That he left for equal money says everything you need to know. Dansby left for an extra $77M. Can’t blame him, or anyone. So long and thanks for all the fish.

  35. If Braves dip in the luxury tax this year, and I’m sure they will, they only get taxed on the overage, which isn’t that much. I believe AA will add. We shall see.

  36. @40 That’s a pretty quick hard judgement. I think we won’t who the “better player” is for a while depending on how Freeman holds out.

    @39 I tend to agree but what we will always be measuring is whether Freeman, Langeliers, Contreras is or would be better than Olson, Murphy. That might even depend upon a Murphy extension. And I mean comparing them money-wise and performance-wise and term-wise. If one or more of the others turns into a “star” (Muller, Pache, Cusick, Tarnok, Estes), it will look worse for the Braves. Might start to look like the Texeira trade if the A’s win a pennant at some point.

  37. Olson’s best season was about as good as the season Freeman put up every year for the better part of a decade, and then in 2022 Olson wasn’t even half the player Freeman was. Olson’s got a lot of catching up to do on the tail end of the contract (or Freeman needs to decline rapidly and immediately) for him to look like the better pick.

    Maybe he’ll do it, and he does have relative youth on his side, but I’ll put my money on the consistent performer.

  38. The Braves were forced into Olson after a sh*t stew of the lockout, Freeman’s mismanagement of his own free agency, and the Braves failure to prevent him from reaching free agency. The only other option was Anthony Rizzo. I’m skeptical that the Olson trade will ever be regretted. The extension, on the other hand, could end up being regrettable.

  39. Looking at the roster and the remaining FA, I think the only place for the Braves to go is another reliever or two. Maybe Taylor Rogers or Adam Ottavino. Even Conforto on a one year deal doesn’t buy much, although I’d love to have his OBP in the lineup. I think Andrus (or Segura) gives nothing over Grissom/Arcia.

    Oh, btw, if Soroka and Anderson return to form, I’d guess Fried is toast.

    I’d like to see some more of our own FA back on MiLB deals.

  40. I’ve never really been sold on Dansby, but he had a terrific season in ’22 and probably would have helped for at least a couple more seasons before declining. If your strategy is that every position player has to be on a team friendly contract, that’s a losing strategy.

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