Those who drafted Atlanta Braves 2B Ozzie Albies last season were doing victory laps after one month. By the time the season ended, the parade had hit a detour.
The Braves second baseman had a slash line of .293/.341/.647 with 12 doubles, one triple, 29 runs, nine home runs, 20 RBIs and three stolen bases in the first month of the season. He finished the season at .261/.305/.452 with 105 runs, 24 home runs, 72 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 639 at-bats. Overall, it was an impressive season at age 21.
The second half, he fell apart batting .226 with 31 runs, four home runs, 17 RBIs and five stolen bases.
What is in store for Albies in 2019? There are some issues, mainly the cost to acquire him in drafts. Albies has an ADP of 53 in the NFBC and has gone as early as 31 and spending a fourth-round pick on Albies is too much. Several second basemen are going later that can match or exceed his stats.
Much is made of first and second half splits, and sometimes it's overblown. Albies was 21 and fatigue could have been a factor. Pitchers also adjusted to him. They realized he was hitting the fastball well and started to throw him a heavy dose of breaking pitches. This often happens to young players and adjusting to this will be vital for Albies this season.
He had an .834 OPS in the first half compared to .624 in the second half and the hard-hit rate dropped from 38.5 percent to 27 percent. While Albies batted .198 in the final month, he had a nine percent walk rate and a .213 BABIP, so that's a good sign. Albies also needs to fare better hitting left-handed. He had a .696 OPS batting lefty and .905 from the right side.
Albies didn't show a lot of power in the minor leagues, so it wasn't surprising to see it diminish as the season went on, but we have seen players not show much power in the minors and become power hitters in the majors. With his small frame at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, he's unlikely to be a source of big power and was near the bottom of the league in exit velocity.
One of the critical factors for Albies is where he bats in the order. It's unlikely he bats leadoff or second and 523 of his at-bats last season came from those spots. Albies could hit anywhere from 5-7, and that will hurt his value a bit.
It's not all gloom and doom. Albies is a young player and can get better. The problem is the cost. He's not worth a fourth-round pick because while he can improve there is downside. Better players are going after Albies.