Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies is no stranger to victory. The switch-hitter is an integral cog to the team, a moving part that’s vital to the success of the Braves overall. Albies has seen plenty of action, but he’s also been the center of the action.
Take for instance the three-run homer that Albies, 27, hit against the New York Mets on June 9th this season. Albies made history for the Braves, who were down with two outs in the 10th inning before Albies nailed the ball with a thunderous crack that sped like a missile into the stands. The win against the Mets completed a three-game sweep, securing Atlanta’s official comeback after a quiet losing streak.
To boot, Albies’ reputation as a successful contact hitter who hits line drives has some pitchers baffled. How can such an arguably small player standing at only 5’8” and weighing only 165 pounds produce so much power behind his swing? And during this year’s midseason, Albies was nominated for the National League in the 2023 MLB All-Star Game – proof that he is an invaluable player for the Braves and is known widely throughout the league.
Albies is a champion, a legend in the making and certainly a player to always remember.
But Albies has been in and out of the lineup this season due to minor injuries that have kept him off the field consistently. And as the Braves continue to keep their names in the headlines as one of the best teams in baseball this season, Albies has created his own dynasty by hitting 29 home runs, stealing 11 bases, and driving in 91 runs.
Perhaps it’s because Albies is a veteran squad member, having joined the team in 2017, that makes the Braves play better when he’s on the roster. Or perhaps it’s because Albies is reliably unpredictable, hitting homers when no one expects it, or making defensive plays that only Albies can make. Or perhaps he’s just a good player who makes winning look easy?
The truth to the Braves’ success when Albies plays is a little of this and a lot of something else entirely – friendship. It’s what I call, “The Ozzie Effect,” that leads the Braves to perform better when Albies is in the mix.
What is “The Ozzie Effect?"
“The Ozzie Effect” increases the Braves’ ability to win and is built upon the idea that his relationship with right fielder, and fan favorite, Ronald Acuña, Jr. influences the game more so than Albies’ hitting and fielding tactics. After all, both Nicky Lopez and Vaughn Grissom perform well amid Albies’ absence at second base and the Braves have a roster full of homerun hitters.
Albies and Acuña are like brothers as they go way back. And while Albies reminds the players and even the crowd that baseball is only a game, Acuña feeds off Albies’ enthusiasm, the constant smile he wears, and his contagious laughter. The two came up through the minors together and have formed a deep bond throughout the years. Because of that, they have come to rely on each other on and off the field and they are quite a supportive and impressive duo.
Acuña, 25, and Albies are said to have an incredibly fun relationship. When Albies and Acuña are both in the dugout, they encourage each other, they take digs at one another – and the game is on. Each wants to see the other succeed, so Albies makes Acuña a better player and vice versa. Even one Reddit user commented, “Ronald Acuña Jr. has played 523 MLB games with Ozzie Albies (147 wRC+) and 121 without (115 wRC+). He is over 30% better when playing with Ozzie.”
Albies teases Acuña, cracks inside jokes, and most importantly, pushes him to do his best – both as a right-handed slugger and as an incredibly talented right-fielder. Without Albies, we wouldn’t have the best of Acuña. And without the best of Acuña, who knows what the game would look like for Braves fans?
So, “The Ozzie Effect” is essentially a way of saying that the Braves play better when Albies is present, not just because of his remarkable stats throughout the years and this season, but also because he pushes the Braves number one player to be even better. Without Albies in the dugout, “The Ozzie Effect” is lost and creates a ripple effect starting with Acuña, the first at bat.
We all know what happens when Acuña hits – and we can, in part, thank Albies for that.