Ozzie Albies, the electric Atlanta Braves second baseman is back, and fans could not be more excited.
With that being said, it appears as though his is not fully adjusted at the plate quite yet. His .262/.279/.415 slash line and wRC+ of 80 is not exactly the type of output fans were hoping for when they got the news that Albies would be ready to go at the start of the season.
He is struggling against both lefties and righties in comparison to his career numbers.
Let’s break down what is going on with Albies and see what adjustments can be made.
First, let’s look at the positives, because there are a lot of them. His BABIP of .275 is lower than his career average of .296. This, of course, is never an exact science, but typically this would mean that a player has had some poor fortune.
BABIP is a very high level stat that can help you head in the right direction of if a player is unfortunate or not. By this, we mean that if a player were to swing the bat the exact same way over an extended period of time, then his production on field would increase.
If we dig deeper into his underlying metrics, we can see further evidence of misfortune. Of course, this is commonplace in small sample sizes, so this is a good sign that Albies can get his production up to a much better level.
At the time of this writing, his batting average is a decent .262, but his xBA is even higher at .285. His slugging percentage is a .415, but his xSLG is a .510. His wOBA is a .300, but his xwOBA is a .347.
Those XSTATS are all in the top half of the league. His xBA is top 21.0 percent, xSLG is top 21.0 percent, and his xwOBA is top 37.0 percent.
Digging even further, we can see that his xwOBA against fastballs and breaking pitches are both currently higher than any of his previous seasons.
It is not guaranteed, but typically you will see a high xwOBA when a player is hitting the ball hard. This is the case with Albies. He his hitting both fastballs and breaking pitches hard at a career high rate.
We can also see that his swing and miss percentages are not concerning. In fact, his percentage of 18.8 on fastballs is the best of his career, as well as his 10.0 against offspeed.
He also has a career high barrel rate and solid contact rate.
So, what is actually causing his below average wRC+?
The first area draws the eye right away is that he is drawing walks at an abysmal rate. Currently, he sits at a paltry 2.9 percent rate, which is easily the worst of his career. Prior to 2023, his worst rate was 4.0 back in 2020. Other than that, he never had a rate lower than 5.9.
As far as comparison to the rest of the league, he is in the bottom 10.0 percent of the league.
The interesting part is that his low walk rate is not due to him having a high swing and miss rate. In fact, only 23.0 percent of the league has been better than him it terms of whiff%. However, his chase rate is one of the worst in the league. Albies is in the bottom 6.0 percent of the league in terms of chase rate.
What this means is that he is chasing bad pitches and making contact with them. In fact, his chase and miss rates against the fastball and offspeed have been the best of his career.
What this has resulted in is a career high groundball rate. His groundball rate currently sits at 50.0 percent. His career ground ball rate is much lower at 37.6. For reference, according to Statcast, since the start of 2017, the league average groundball rate is 44.8 percent.
It goes without saying that since his groundball rate is so high, that his launch angles have been much less optimal than in previous seasons. For example, his average LA against a fastball this year has been 8.0 degrees. He has never had an average launch angle against the fastball lower than 18.0 degrees in his career. It is the same story against breaking pitches as well. He has a 7.0 average launch angle in 2023, yet has never had one lower than 14.0.
Looking at his XSTATS, Ozzie Albies should be just fine with the stick. His expectancy stats show that he is making solid contact at an excellent rate, and he is not swinging and missing much. However, he does have some adjustments that can help him expedite his surface numbers coming back up to what we have come to expect from him.
He has a low OBP for a reason. He is swinging away like crazy, so he is not drawing walks. He is also chasing a lot of bad pitches. Since he is elite at making solid contact, he is making solid contact on bad pitches. This has increased his odds of hitting groundballs due to bad launch angles.
This is why we see a good whiff rate with a bad chase rate. It is also why we see a high groundball rate despite him having a really good hard hit rate and barrel rate.
If he can lay off of swinging at pitches outside the zone, not only will his walks go up, but his groundball rate will decrease and he will have better launch angles on the times he makes contact. If he does this, it has higher odds of resulting in fewer outs.
If Ozzie Albies can make these adjustments, watch out!