The Braves have had a lot to be excited about this season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Freddie Freeman has been his usual awesome self and continues to an (underappreciated) MVP candidate who is just a consistent offensive force in the middle of the Braves lineup. Ronald Acuna Jr. has been really good all year and his latest surge has him threatening a 40/40 season with 30/30 all but a lock as he closes in on a 6-7 WAR season. Josh Donaldson, despite his detractors earlier in the season, has been exactly as advertised as a power bat who walks a ton, plays really solid defense at third, and and hits dingers.
However, amidst all of that production, one player who has not gotten the credit he deserves has been second baseman Ozzie Albies. We all remember what Ozzie did in the first half last season. While batting .281 and posting a 120 wRC+ while connecting for a surprising 20 home runs, Ozzie earned an All-Star nod and appeared to be primed for a truly great season. However, fatigue and adjustments from opposing pitchers set in and Ozzie, to put it nicely, fell off in the second half of 2018 as he batted just .226 with four homers and a pretty abysmal 67 wRC+. Right-handed pitching in particular gave him fits as he batted just .231 with an 84 wRC+ that actually looks better than it was for a good chunk of the season thanks to the aforementioned early season power boost.
Flash forward to 2019 and things for Ozzie have changed pretty significantly. He has remained a good defender at second base and had a really nice first half of the season in 2019. While he was denied a trip to the All-Star game thanks to some really strong competition from Ketel Marte and others, he still batted .290 with 14 homers and a perfectly respectable 113 wRC+. He saw his walk rate climb to 8% which was a positive development given his almost stubborn refusal to draw a walk last season. Overall, the type of production one would want from a cornerstone stud second baseman.
One would have been excused if they were skeptical that that level of production who continue given what we saw last season. However, instead of falling off and struggling with the adjustments the league continues to make against him, Ozzie has flourished in the second half. Since the All-Star break, Albies is batting .339 as of this writing with a 145 wRC+ and has even see his power uptick in the second half with a .248 ISO compared to a still impressive .196 in the first half.
Add all of that production together and you have one of the best second basemen in baseball. Here are his current ranks amongst his qualified second base peers across the league (as of 8/11).
fWAR - 3rd (3rd)
wRC+ - 4th (121)
Home Runs - 7th (18)
wOBA - 4th (.360)
Given what the Braves saw in the second half this season combined with the extremely team friendly contract extension the team signed him Ozzie to this season (a $35 million extension through 2027 still seems crazy to...well, almost everyone), all parties involved have to be thrilled with Ozzie’s progress. He has even gotten significantly better against righties (.269 batting average and 99 wRC+ in 2019) to go along with his absolute dominance against left-handers.
In short, Ozzie Albies is quickly fashioning himself into one of the better second basemen in all of baseball with speed, power, and a hit tool that is showing much more this season. There are second basemen this year that are having better seasons than him and there are Braves position players that are having better seasons than him...there is no question about either of those things. That does not mean that what he has done and how he has grown should be ignored.