Ozzie Albies’ season has been one of high variance. At times his bat appears to be a liability, but those moments are scattered among spurts of offensive brilliance.
Albies, who leads all National League second basemen in All-Star voting, has put together a strong campaign regardless of peaks and valleys. The switch-hitter ranks first among full-time second basemen in the NL with 71 hits, and he has a .271 average, a .339 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage. He’s tied for the lead in triples (three), homers (10), RBIs (29) and walks (26).
For Albies to lead in so many categories would’ve been baffling weeks ago. The Braves tried Albies in different spots, including leadoff, before he settled at the bottom of the order. He’s since regained the dynamic play that prompted the Braves to give him a seven-year, $35 million deal in April.
Across 10 games in June, Albies has hit .303/.429/.667 with three homers, five RBIs and eight runs scored. Two of his homers came Monday against the Pirates from the eighth spot. This comes after a lackadaisical May in which Albies hit .239 with six extra-base hits.
“I’m really liking the adjustments I’m seeing,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s hitting some change-ups. That’s all stuff that’s geared to why we did that. It’s been nice seeing the adjustments he’s making and how he’s adapted to (the bottom of the order).”
Albies, who hits lefties substantially better than righties, is hitting .375 while batting eighth (48 at-bats). In a similar sample size, he’s hitting .283 in the six-hole. Albies, 22, credited hitting coach Kevin Seitzer for altering his approach at the plate.
“I feel great,” Albies said. “Adjusting every day. … It’s not easy hitting in front of the pitcher. But I’m feeling better. I just have to play my game and go out and compete.”
The Braves hoped shifting Albies down would help him recognize off-speed pitches better. Albies said he’s seeing more off-speed in the lower part of the order, but “guys are going to pitch me like that to get me out” regardless of his lineup position.
Perhaps Albies has found a home in the lineup. Certainly, him maintaining his current production level gives the Braves an even deeper lineup. Albies’ speed and pop make him a weapon in the lower portion of the order that few teams possess.
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