Ozzie Albies stepped on to the red carpet as a 21-year-old All-Star.
The Braves second baseman started in the Futures game just three years ago. He’s a reserve for the National League All-Stars in Washington, and finished as the second-leading vote-getter among NL second baseman (Javy Baez, Cubs).
“It’s been great,” Albies said before Tuesday’s game. “It’s been a good experience. The only thing I can do is thank God for this opportunity.”
He got one at-bat in the game after entering in the sixth, grounding out against Charlie Morton. He was lifted in the ninth for Scooter Gennett, who hit a two-run homer.
“It was amazing,” Albies said. “It was exciting and hopefully I keep coming to these All-Star games. Amazing feeling, and hopefully more are on the way.”
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Albies got his first taste of the majors in August. He hit .286 with six homers, 28 RBIs and 34 runs scored in 57 games, proving himself worthy of routinely hitting high in the order in 2018.
He exploded in the first month of this season. His 22 extra-base hits fell one shy of the MLB record. He’s slashed .281/.318/.516 with 52 extra-base hits at the break. He leads the NL with 74 runs scored and 208 total bases.
Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, veteran All-Star Braves, often have attributed much of the team’s success to the energy younger players provide. Albies’ infectious playing style hasn’t gone unnoticed by opponents.
“He’s a good ballplayer, man,” Phillies ace Aaron Nola said. “He plays hard all the time. That’s what you want to see out of guys, especially the young guys. He’s here (at the All-Star game) for a reason. He plays hard every night. Good things happen when you play hard.”
“He’s a good player,” Mets ace Jacob deGrom said. “I enjoy competing against those guys. That’s part of it, facing the best. That’s what you want to do.”
After his first slump of the season, Albies had an eight-game hitting streak and 20-game on-base streak before going 0-for-4 in Friday’s game against Arizona. He hit over .400 in that span.
Astros MVP second baseman Jose Altuve, another “size doesn’t matter” case study, has publicly praised Albies in the past. He did so again Monday, referred to Albies as one of the game’s best young hitters.
“For a guy like that to say that, I told him, ‘Thank you,’” Albies said. “For me, he’s the one I always (admired). He’s amazing. He’s something else.”
Not even a full year into his career, Albies entered Nationals Park on the red carpet alongside the biggest names in baseball. He’s the first Braves second baseman to make the event since Dan Uggla in 2012. He’s the first Brave to qualify in his first full season since Jason Heyward (2010).
“It was awesome, awesome,” Albies said. “It was really cool. It means a lot for all of us to be here. It feels great.”