As most Braves’ fans already know, Ozzie Albies has always been a better right-handed hitter than left-handed hitter. This is nothing new. For his career, Albies has a 146 wRC+ batting right-handed and a 93 wRC+ batting left-handed. The gap has always been there and has always been rather large. From the first day he showed up, right up to this very moment, this has been true.
But in 2023, he’s taken it to levels never before seen. Here’s his updated numbers for this season:
Batting right-handed: 236 wRC+
Batting left-handed: 58 wRC+
I know not everyone fully embraces or even fully understands wRC+ as a metric so the enormity of that gap might get lost. So here’s those same numbers broken down a little more:
Batting RH: .440/.451/.800, 1.251 OPS
Batting LH: .186/.238/.371, .609 OPS
In a 105 plate appearance batting left-handed this season, Ozzie has 18 hits, 8 of which are extra base-hits. In 51 plate appearances batting right-handed this season, Ozzie has 22 hits, 9 of which are extra base-hits. In 54 fewer plate appearances, Ozzie has 4 more hits and 1 more extra base-hit batting RH vs LH. The gap is staggering.
And the gap is not just in the results, but the underlying metrics too. Batting left-handed this season, Albies is averaging 86 mph in exit velocity with a 10 degree launch angle for a .284 expected wOBA and a .260 actual wOBA. Batting right handed this season, Albies is averaging 91 mph in exit velocity with a 17 degree launch angle for a .498 expected wOBA and a .530 actual wOBA.
A .284 xwOBA batting LH and a .498 xwOBA batting RH is an insane gap. And yes, some of this will correct itself a bit as the season moves along, the BABIP gap being part of it, but again the gap is not just in results, not just in the outputs, but in the inputs as well.
This is the part where I’m supposed to say Ozzie should abandon batting LH and move to exclusively to batting RH and that is something I have argued for in the past as the gap between his LH and RH numbers has seemingly grown every year. But at some point, we get too far down his career path where that’s even functionally possible. He hasn’t seen a RH vs RH hard breaking ball in over a decade and expecting he’d be able to just deal with that suddenly is probably unrealistic. And again, these splits overall, are nothing new. If the team thought that was even a plausible path to take, they almost certainly would’ve taken it by now. And they haven’t.
And he’s not as bad a LH hitter as he’s been in early 2023. I expect those numbers by the end of the season to look very similar to his career numbers.
But the gap is there. It’s always been there and will probably always be there. Ozzie is a substantially better hitter batting RH vs batting LH and that’s only proven to be more true in 2023.