Braves: What happened to Ozzie Albies’ defense?

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One of the themes of the early part of the season from a negative aspect has been the Braves’ defense. Typically one of the best defensive teams in the league, they’ve looked like the Bad News Bears far too often to begin the 2024 campaign. Perhaps they’re feeling the effects of the departure of Ron Washington, or it could just be an anomaly of a small sample size that gets straightened out as the season progresses. But one player, in particular, has struggled defensively for far longer than just the first few games of 2024, Ozzie Albies.

With the stick, Albies remains arguably the best second baseman in the game. He’s coming off a career year last season, blasting 33 homers with a 124 wRC+ (24% above league average). However, the glove has been a different story.

Albies was once one of the best defensive second basemen in the game, a player that many believed would win a Gold Glove. In 2018, Albies’ first full season in the league, he recorded 12 outs above average, which ranked in the 97th percentile of major leaguers. Even as close as 2022, he recorded four outs above average in just 64 games. Albies has always been a well above average defender throughout his career. Until last year, when his outs above average dropped to -10, ranking in the bottom two percentile of major leaguers. It was dismal, and he’s picked up right where he left off this season, already recording -2 outs above average through just 12 games.

The eye test correlates as well. It doesn’t take a statistician to recognize that Albies is not only making more errors, but he’s failing to get to balls that he used to make look easy. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe the multiple injuries he suffered in 2022 have slowed him down, but unlike hitting, it’s difficult to pinpoint why his defensive play has shifted so drastically. Thankfully, it’s not affecting his offensive performance. Through 12 games, Ozzie Albies is hitting .333 with a couple of homers and a .922 OPS.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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