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Ozzie Albies has significantly improved a weakness

Ozzie Albies has effectively turned a weakness into a strength this season. It is no shock that his overall offensive output has seen an increase, and here is why.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
Ozzie ALbie has taken a step forward offensively this season
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves secured their sixth straight division title, and that is largely due to them having such a well-rounded roster.

One of the keys to the Braves being on pace for one of the best offenses in franchise history is a handful of players having rebound seasons.

One of these players is Ozzie Albies. He is arguably having one of the best offensive seasons of his career. With the regular season dwindling, what better time to break down what Albies has done to get back to the Albies we all know and love?

So, what has Albies improved on the most?

From a very high level, we can see that Ozzie Albies struggles a bit versus RHP. In fact, he has only had one season in which he had a wRC+ against them was above 100 (league average), and that was back in 2019.

However, his wRC+ is exactly 100 this season against them, and his xwOBA against them (.318) is also his best since 2019.

Now, let’s attempt to break it down step by step and get down to a granular level.

We know that Albies is a free swinger, so let’s look at chase rate vs RHP. If we look at the chart below, we see that his chase rate against breaking pitches is his lowest since 2018. Of course, chase rate in and of itself is not the whole story, but it leads us in a direction.

Chase rate vs RHP

Well, chasing pitches does not equal swing and missing one-hundred percent of the time. But, if we look at his swing and miss percentage vs breaking pitches against RHP we see that his 25.1 percent is his second best since his rookie season of 2017. However, it is a bit higher than last year, in which he had a 22.8 percent.

So, while this is a piece of the pie, it is not the key to his improved performance vs RHP.

As we know, there are multiple types of breaking pitches, so of course it makes sense to break it down even further than just pitch category and get even more granular.

If we look at just the curveball we can start seeing some intriguing signs. The most interest one is that although his swing and miss rate is down on breaking pitches vs RHP, his rate against curves vs RHP is up to 29.1 percent, which is the second highest of his career.

Swing and miss percentage against the curve vs RHP

Interestingly, if we look at run value, he has a run value of six against the curve this year, which is by far the best of his career. In fact, he has four seasons in which his run value was in the negative, and his highest in a season has been a run value added of three.

He has the lowest swing and miss percentage against the slider vs RHP in his career this season at 21.7 percent, so that explains his lower overall swing and miss percentage when we lump pitches into the breaking ball category, but it does not explain his uptick in performance since his run value added against the slider has been four runs lower than it was last season.

So, what gives? How is it that his swing and miss percentage is up so high against the curve vs RHP, yet he has been much more productive?

First, although he swings and missed a lot on the pitch, he does not strikeout on the pitch very often in comparison to previous seasons. From 2018-2021, Albies had a put away percentage on the curve vs RHP that ranged from 19.5 to 33.3 percent. This percentage means when he has two strikes, if this pitch was thrown he would strikeout against it. This season, he has a rate of 12.0 percent.

Of course, this is not the only reason for his success, because he had a 10.4 percent rate in 2022, but it is definitely part of the reason Albies has had more success against the pitch.

Albies also has a career low swing and miss percentage inside the strike zone for curve vs RHP. His 9.1 percent rate is easily his lowest with his second lowest being 13.3 percent way back in 2017. This low rate has obviously contributed to his low put away percentage this season.

Back to his six run value added, it goes beyond just the strikeouts. He has the best wOBA and xwOBA against the curve vs RHP in his career with a batting average of .308 and slugging percentage of .462. His XSTATS are lower at xBA of .272 and .401, but those are still his best and second best respectively of his career against the pitch.

xwOBA against the curve vs RHP

There are two contributing factors that really stick out as to why we have seen an increase in the run value added.

First, Ozzies has seen a massive increase of average exit velocity against the curve vs RHP this season. In fact, it is currently the highest of his career at 87.5 MPH.

Average Exit Velocity against the curve vs RHP

Obviously, when you hit the ball harder, especially when you have an average launch angle of eighteen degrees like Albies has, it is going to translate into more hits over a large sample size.

On top of him hitting the ball harder at an optimal launch angle, he has drastically decreased his ground ball rate on this same pitch type. His ground ball rate is down to a career low of 22.9 percent, which is much lower than his 56.3 percent from 2022. Before this season, he never had a rate lower than 30.2 percent.

This has also resulted in the second highest line drive rate and second highest fly ball rate against the curve vs RHP.

In Summary

When we look from a very high level we can see that Albies is performing better against righties this season, and when 81.38 percent of pitches thrown to him have been from a righty, it goes a long way in his overall performance having an uptick.

When we go a little deeper we see that he is performing much better against the curve when it is coming from a RHP. He is hitting the ball much harder, while also striking out less, and hitting fewer ground balls.

Of course, only 8.2 percent of pitches thrown to him have fallen in this category, but he has flipped an area of weakness to a strength.

Hopefully this trend continues into the playoffs.

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