Albies among youngest (not to mention smallest) to homer on opening day

Ozzie Albies is congratulated after his eighth-inning homer in the Braves’ 8-5 come-from-behind win against the Phillies on opening day. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

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Ozzie Albies is congratulated after his eighth-inning homer in the Braves’ 8-5 come-from-behind win against the Phillies on opening day. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

When Ozzie Albies led off the eighth inning with a home run in Thursday’s season opener, adding fuel to the Braves’ soon-to-be-raging rally in a 8-5 comeback win against the Phillies, he became the third-youngest infielder to homer on opening day in the past 110 seasons.

The only infielders who did it at a younger age than Albies (21 years, 82 days) were Brewers shortstop Robin Yount (19 years, 204 days) in 1975 and Giants first baseman Orlando Cepeda (20 years, 210 days) in 1958.

Yount and Cepeda, who are both in the Hall of Fame, were younger than Albies when they homered on opening day, but neither was anywhere close to as small as the Braves’ dynamo of a second baseman, who is generously listed as 5 feet 8 and 165 pounds.

Albies is the youngest player to homer on opening day since the Nationals’ Bryce Harper homered twice in 2013 at 20 years, 167 days. It was Harper’s second opening day and he, too, is obviously quite a big larger than Albies.

Despite his size, Albies has a quick, powerful swing that produces line drives to all parts of the ballpark and plenty that sail over the fence. He had five triples, six homers and a .456 slugging percentage to go with his .286 batting average in 57 games during a two-month call-up in August and September.

“Man, he’s got hands,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Albies’ impressive power from such a small package. “God blessed him with some hands, boy. They’re something else.”

This year at spring training Albies hit .303 with a .500 slugging percentage that was fourth-highest on the team among Braves with at least 40 at-bats in Grapefruit League play. The only Brave with more homers at spring training than Albies (three in 66 at-bats) was phenom Ronald Acuna, who had four homers in 44 at-bats.