Love me some Ozzie! He’s got a ton of energy and plays with passion a little bit like Lindor… I’m not gonna go that far to say that comparison but then again he’s only going to be 21! Did you hear that? The kid is going to play the entire season at age 21! I call these kinds of talented youngsters Starboys. I do think his upside will be similar to what 2016 Lindor did but with more speed.
So we know he has speed, typically around 30 steals per year in the minors, and he had 8 in 244 PA in the majors. But let’s look at some other numbers from his two-month audition in 2017. You’ll notice that he flashed a little power hitting 6 HRs in 244 PA. He also hit 9 in AAA before being called up. His previous high was 6 in 2016. You might think that 15 is more of a ceiling but digging deeper into his approach, his FB% jumped from around 30% in 2016 to 40% in 2017 (38% in AAA). That isn’t by accident. A jump of 2-3% might be, but not 10%. In his small sample, he hit the ball relatively hard, especially for an undersized 20-year-old and he pulls over 40% of his batted balls while rarely hitting popups. I like this approach, it’s very similar to what Lindor and Jose Ramirez are doing in Cleveland. If the ball remains the same in 2018 (and why wouldn’t it, the ratings are up), expect the HRs to keep coming for Albies.
Whatever is going on with the ball is helping the 8-10 HR hitters more so than the Stanton / Judges of MLB. See the table below published by The Ringer about Alan Nathan’s trajectory calculator and the aforementioned NCAA seam-height study.
Now again this is just a study on NCAA balls but it at least gives us an idea about how extra distance can be added to the ball within the legal parameters.
That extra 5-10 feet turn those warning track fly outs into dingers. “Just enough” HRs count the same as Judge’s 495-foot blasts. Expect a few ups and downs throughout the year because remember, he’s only 21! Did I say that already? The steals will be there as well, he was very efficient in 2017, at nearly 90% success rate at should be slotted 1st or 2nd in an underrated lineup with a better than average Suntrust home park. Unfortunately, with his new approach I don’t think he’ll hit for as high of an average as originally expected, but you’ll take the HRs as a trade-off.
My 2018 Projections are: .277/.339, 90 runs, 16 HRs, 70 RBI and 27 steals (ADP around 171 in the Way Too Early Mock Drafts)