Ozzie Albies Injury Means Other IFs Must Stay Healthy
Ozzie Albies injury Monday night tests the Atlanta Braves health and depth on the infield. Albies fractured his foot on a swing, and he could not get out of the box, against the Washington Nationals. The Atlanta Braves 2B, and the teams entire infield, proved very durable last season. All four infielders: 1B Freedie Freeman, Albies, SS Dansby Swanson, and 3B Austin Riley, played 150 games or more last season. The team misses not just Albies solid defense, he formed an excellent double play combination with Swanson, but also his speed and solid bat.
Albies injury was severe enough that the Braves placed him on the 60 day DL Tuesday. What it means for the Braves is that Matt Olson, Riley, and Swanson all must stay healthy. Utility player Orlando Arcia now starts at second base. The only other infielder on the teams current 26 man roster is Phil Gosselin. There is no one backing up any of the other three infielders. With the exception of Swanson and Riley have been solid in the field and at the plate. Olson, who the Braves received in a trade with the Oakland A’s after Freeman signed with the Dodgers, has been a solid 1B defensively. He has struggled at the plate at times, particularly with runners in scoring position.
Arcia played in the outfield last season at times for Alanta, but naturally is a SS. Coming into Tuesday’s game his average of .313 is excellent, but he lacks the power of Albies. Albies possesses greater range as a natural 2B as well. Albies speed on the bases might not match Acuna’s, but Arcia’s not a baserunning or stealing threat like Ozzie. Arcia represents a good replacement player for the Braves, but GM Alex Anthopoulos will be forced to make tough decisions on which prospects or starters to trade if any other infielders are injured. The Braves expect to suffer a dropoff without their All-Star 2B, but one more injury may mean the difference between staying in contention or not for the playoffs.
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