2019 Projection: Will The Real Ozzie Albies Please Stand Up?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Braves’ Ozzie Albies appeared to be on the verge of a full scale explosion, lighting it up in the first half of 2018.  While that led to strong numbers overall, the drop-off was dramatic after the All-Star Break.  Just look at the comparison:

Half
PA
AVG
HR
RBI
R
SB
First Half432.2812055749
Second Half252.226417315

Obviously the question facing fantasy owners now is which is the real Ozzie Albies?  Is it the player who looked like a potential elite talent in the first half?  Or is it the player who was arguably unusable in the second half?

Let’s remember that Albies played the season as a 21-year old, and opposing pitchers clearly made an adjustment as the season progressed.  Over the first three months of the season he saw fastballs 56.05% of the time, but that percentage dropped to 50.27% over the final three months.  It makes sense, as he struggled against non-fastballs all season long (AVG // SLG):

  • Changeup – .273 // .385
  • Slider – .235 // .397
  • Curveball – .230 // .437

Interestingly it wasn’t swings and misses that was causing his issues, with Whiff% of 11.58% against breaking balls and 11.00% against offspeed pitches overall.  That’s promising and shows that there’s every reason for him to take that step forward in his maturation and make the necessary adjustments.  Considering his Hard% of 29.2% and 26.5% over the final two months, compared to 38.5% in the first half, it’s easy to envision an overall improvement in his average (his first half mark is a fair expectation).

It’s also fair to say that he’s not going to maintain the home run pace from the first half.  That said 40 doubles and 5 triples, as well as HR/FB of 9.1% or better in five of six months there, it’s also easy to argue that there’s reason for optimism.  He may not be a 30+ HR threat, but seeing him hit 20+ again (especially as he develops a little bit more) is a given.

Throw in the potential to better utilize his speed, while also scoring ample runs, and what’s not to like?  It all comes together for the following projection for 2019:

2019 Projection
.280 (168-600), 25 HR, 75 RBI, 95 R, 17 SB, .305 BABIP, .326 OBP, .482 SLG

Obviously there’s going to be concerns about his poor second half, as well as his relative lack of walks (5.3% walk rate in ’18).  That said the fact that the struggles weren’t due to a spike in strikeouts, despite seeing fewer fastballs, is extremely promising.  It’s just a small adjustment, something that wouldn’t be surprising to see, and he could rise to being among the elite in the game (especially if he hits atop the order, but even hitting second there isn’t a concern).  Don’t get frustrated by the struggles as the upside remains and should be seen in 2019 and beyond.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Player
Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

7 comments

  1. Jim says:

    Ozzie Albies or Whit Merrifield? 10 team keeper league, I can one of the two for three years.
    Thanks.

  2. Mike says:

    Hey Eric, I play in a ten team H2H league that allows five keepers. I have Goldschmidt, Machado, and Acuna who I think are no brainers. My other two spots Can be filled by two of the following:

    Hitters: Soto, Albies, Hoskins, and Guerrero.
    Pitchers: Scherzer and Nola

    Out of those six names which two would you keep? I’ll have the tenth pick in the draft, so I’m assuming everyone but possibly Guerrero will be gone by the time I select.

  3. Josh says:

    I’m confused by your transition of thought in the paragraph following the splits on non-fastballs. The decrease in hard% as the season culminated combined with the decrease in fastballs seen throughout the season makes me think that he doesn’t center the offspeed pitches and is just trying to put the ball in play. What adjustments do you think he should be able to make to maintain his first half average for the course of an entire season, if presumably his first half was peak Albies? Those first half numbers were first or second round caliber, especially at 2B. But like you said, his second half was practically unusable. Is it a normal progression for young players to increase their hard% against offspeed pitches? Because I would anticipate his sophomore year fastball% to drop below 50. I picked up Albies in the previous season when he was first called up so I’ve always had hope that he would develop into a superstar, but those numbers scare me more than encourage me.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Not all players figure it out against offspeed pitches, so that’s going to be the key to if he does become a 1st/2nd round talent or not. Everyone develops at a different pace, but given his ability to put the ball in play I’d expect him to be able to make it and take that step this season.

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