A shortened season combined with the start and stop getting ready wreaked havoc on health in the league. Ozzie Albies turned in a lost season in his development after suffering a wrist injury. Albies played in 29 contests with only 124 plate appearances, 21 runs, six home runs, 19 RBI, three stolen bases and a .271/.306/.466 slash line. Not quite what fantasy owners hoped for when targeting him in early drafts.

However, counting out Albies who turns 24 in January of 2021 for the upcoming season would be a mistake. For starters, this note from The Athletic from Atlanta's hitting coach:

As a loud proponent of Albies for fantasy, giving him a mulligan in 2020 makes sense. Uncharacteristic backslides in plate discipline for Albies resulted in a reduced walk percentage while striking out more (24.2 percent marks his worst total in his career for a season). But, he maintained contact rates (77.1 percent) and a solid Z-Contact (in the strike zone) of 84.9 percent.

Transitioning to Statcast, Albies recorded 88 batted ball events with eight barrels (9.1 percent) with an average exit velocity of 86.7 MPH, a 35.2 sweet spot percentage and 28.4 hard hit rate. For the good, Albies slightly upped his Zone Swing percent and kept his Zone Contact in line with 2019 at 83.7 percent. Plus, Albies reduced his Chase percentage while cutting his Chase contact (outside the strike zone) by almost 10 percent. For the bad, his ground ball rate rose while losing line drive production and hitting more pop-ups. Hoping the wrist factored into these results.

Expanding his sample size to gain a better feel for Albies abilities and projecting his upcoming season makes sense. Starting with his second half from 2019 in addition to his 2020 season, Albies proves more appealing:

  • Albies 2H 2019-through-2020: 99 games, 438 plate appearances, 67 runs, 16 home runs, 56 RBI, 12 stolen bases; .293/.340/.502, 6.4 BB%, 18.7 K%, .209 ISO, .352 wOBA

For a visual on these results, here's Albies fly balls and line drives from the 99 games above courtesy of Statcast:

Over the last three seasons, Albies owns an enticing statistical perspective:

  • Albies Last 3 Years: 351 games, 1528 plate appearances, 231 runs, 55 home runs, 179 RBI, 33 stolen bases; .278/.327/.476, 6.2 BB%, 16.9 K%, .198 ISO, .339 wOBA

Not even in his power peak, Albies can provide sneaky pop along with pocket stolen bases which remain scarce in the fantasy landscape. There's a couple of factors when trying to project Albies for 2021. First, where he hits in the batting order may affect his upside and how his wrist responds while hopefully remaining active attempting stolen bases.

Taking a look into two projection systems, they seem split on how to value Albies upcoming campaign:

  • Albies 2021 Steamer Projection: 150 games, 641 plate appearances, 87 runs, 26 home runs, 84 RBI, 14 stolen bases; .278/.337/.483, 7.6 BB%, 16.4 K%, .205 ISO, .342 wOBA
  • Albies 2021 ZiPS Projection: 151 games, 659 plate appearances, 105 runs, 28 home runs, 91 RBi, 18 stolen bases; .286/.335/.506, 6.5 BB%, 17.5 K%, .220 ISO, .363 wOBA

During the postseason, Albies hit fifth in the Braves lineup with two home runs and two stolen bases in 12 games with a combined .277 batting average. However, when viewing the team results from the fifth spot in the lineup during the 2020 season, it's tough to believe Albies could score 100-plus runs from this spot in the lineup. Breaking these projections down to production by plate appearance, it shows some intriguing differences to note:

  • Albies 2021 Steamer breakdown: Run per 7.4 plate appearances, home run per 24.7 plate appearances, RBI per 7.6 plate appearances, stolen base per 45.8 plate appearances, 4.27 plate appearances per game
  • Albies 2021 ZiPS breakdown: Run per 6.3 plate appearances, home run per 25.5 plate appearances, RBI per 7.2 plate appearances, stolen base 36.6 plate appearances, 4.36 plate appearances per game

Taking this a step further mining the results from 2020, Braves aggregate average of players batting fifth averaged 4.38 plate appearances per contest versus the second hitter logging 4.65 plate appearances per game. Over a full season, this would reduce Albies counting statistics, especially in runs if he hits fifth instead of second. He's remained consistent attempting stolen bases no matter where he bats in the lineup, so it's about weighing more RBI batting fifth or more runs scored hitting second.

Then applying his spot in the lineup to his recent results such as his second half of 2019 through 2020 numbers and his last three years statistics:

  • Albies 2H 2019-2020 breakdown: Run per 6.5 plate appearances, home run per 27.4 plate appearances, RBI per 7.8 plate appearances, stolen base per 36.5 plate appearances, 4.43 plate appearances per game
  • Albies Last 3 Years: Run per 6.6 plate appearances, home run per 27.8 plate appearances, RBI per 8.5 plate appearances, stolen base per 46.3 plate appearances, 4.35 plate appearances per game

Accounting for all of these factors along with a potential late start to the season or another year which may be tough to project based on total games played based on reports, Albies numbers could end up as such:

  • Albies 300 plate appearances: 42 runs, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 8 SB
  • Albies 450 plate appearances: 63 runs, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 12 SB
  • Albies 600 plate appearances: 83 runs, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 16 SB
  • Albies breakdown: Run per 7.2 plate appearances, home run per 24 plate appearances, RBI per 7.4 plate appearances, stolen base per 38 plate appearances

Within these projections, placing a sliding scale of .283-to-.295 for Albies batting average in 2021. Suffice it to say, bullish on Albies for the season ahead. Doubling down on last year being an outlier due to his wrist injury.


Statistical Credits:





ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborsk