Ozzie Albies’ 2022 season was limited to just 64 games due to a fractured foot and a fractured finger that knocked him out of any chance of appearing during the postseason. With the injuries hopefully now behind him, he will be looking at a normal offseason heading into Spring Training.
Atlanta originally signed Albies as a free agent out of Curaçao in 2013. He made his major league debut in 2017 and agreed to an extremely, hilariously team-friendly seven-year, $35 million extension in April of 2019. The deal also includes a pair of club options that could keep Albies under contract through 2027.
What were the expectations?
After slugging a career-best 30 home runs in 2021, the Braves were looking for more All-Star level production from Albies at the plate and in the field in 2022. He had a bit of a down year defensively in 2021, but combined that with an above-average batting line and his best baserunning value ever to post 3.9 fWAR, the second-highest mark of his career. Coming off the heels of a 2020 where he missed time with a wrist injury, it was great to see his hitting and power show few ill lingering effects.
Overall, Albies was again expected to be an above-average regular, a 3+ WAR guy, with average-to-above hitting, average-to-above defense at second base, and great baserunning.
Albies’ 2022 season got off to a bit of a strange start even before his injury. He hit just .214 in April, but 10 of his 18 hits for the month went for extra bases, including six home runs and a 114 wRC+ for the month. Those six home runs came in his first 16 games. That was followed by a stretch of 40 straight games without a home run.
From April 24 through June 13, when he suffered a fractured foot, Albies hit just .244/.277/.344 with 12 doubles, two homers and a 71 wRC+.
The Braves placed Albies on the 60-day Injured List on June 14 with a foot fracture that required surgery. That set off a search for a replacement at second base, which yielded temporary fill-ins Phil Gosselin, Robinson Cano, Orlando Arcia, and eventually, rookie Vaughn Grissom.
Albies returned to Atlanta’s lineup on September 16, but his presence was short-lived as he suffered a fractured right pinky finger on a slide into second base in just his second game back. He was again placed on the Injured List September 18 which effectively ended his season.
What went right? What went wrong?
The injuries were unfortunate and not something that the Braves were really prepared for. They ended up getting a lot of mileage out of Arcia and Grissom, but it wasn’t the same level of play that Albies had given them in the past.
Albies was 2-for-5 at the plate after returning from the foot injury and his return looked like it might provide a spark for the Braves. However, the finger injury again put a damper on his season.
Overall, Albies really did scuffle offensively when he was in the lineup. There wasn’t any glaring reason for it — he was just slightly worse all around, and that added up to a much worse, sub-.300 xwOBA for only the second time in his career, with the first being the 2020 season where he had the hurt wrist. A couple of things that may have contributed include:
- His z-contact went way up, suggesting he was getting away from the Braves’ approach of bailing out to kill strikes, which explains his diminished quality of contact; and
- Pitchers threw him very little in the zone, which he reacted to by chasing way more. Combine that with him swinging to not miss, and you had comparatively more weak stuff put in play than earlier.
One of Albies’ biggest moments, when he was still around, was this eventual game-winning double against the Marlins:
This kind of summed up his season offensively: arguably his biggest hit came on a first-pitch swing and resulted in a well-placed blooper rather than anything else. A lot more often, though, that same approach to just flick the bat out there led to much more costly outcomes, like this one, a key out in a game the Braves eventually lost to the Cubs.
Brian Snitker said at the Winter Meetings that Albies has recovered from his injuries and has been working out at Truist Park this offseason in an effort to get ready for Spring Training. That is good news for the Braves who again will be looking for an All-Star level performance and hopefully a bit better injury luck during the 2023 season.
At this point, it’s probably worth mentally downgrading Albies from “hyper-durable” given that he’s had serious injuries in two of his last three seasons, but other adjustments to expectations might be premature. Yes, 2022 was a bad offensive season, but he also rebounded defensively. Something in line with his career, 2022 included, of between 3.0 and 3.5 WAR for 550-600 PAs seems about right.