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Could Ozzie Albies become the all-time leader in second base home runs?

Could Ozzie Albies set the all-time 2nd base homer record? - Sports  Illustrated Atlanta Braves News, Analysis and More

Ozzie’s already in the top 30 all-time for homers by a 2nd baseman.

Atlanta Braves fans love Ozzie Albies.

The 5-8 second baseman out of Curaçao debuted with Atlanta in 2017, having moved from shortstop to second base when the Braves traded for Dansby Swanson.

And since then, he’s been fantastic – three All-Star berths in his four full seasons, with two Silver Sluggers (and a nomination for another this year). His 162 game average is a .273/.325/.479 line with 27 homers, 104 runs and 95 RBIs.

He’s signed through 2025 at only $7M per season, with two $7M team options that could keep him in Atlanta through 2027, his age 30 season.

And there’s a chance he could set some history while he’s here. Some fans have speculated recently that he could one day hold the Major League record for home runs by a 2nd baseman.

Is that actually doable?

Right now, when sorting for Major League hitters who played at least 85% of their career games at second base, Ozzie Albies is 27th in MLB history in home runs with 131.

(The commonly-cited leader for 2nd base home runs is Jeff Kent – he played 2034 of his 2298 career games at second base, so around 88%. He’s followed by Robinson Cano with 335 homers and Ryne Sandberg with 282.)

What are the odds Ozzie could pass Kent’s 377 homers?

I think it depends on which version of Ozzie Albies we get and if he stays healthy.

The early-career Ozzie, the one that went to his first All-Star Game in 2018 and then led the league in hits (189) and at-bats (640) in 2019 probably wouldn’t be able to do it. He hit a combined 48 homers those seasons, as he was more of a doubles-and-steals guy – Ozzie hit 83 doubles (and thirteen triples) combined in both seasons, while stealing 29 bags.

But in his last two full seasons, Ozzie’s better leaned into the power, hitting 30 homers in 2021 and a career-high 33 this season. If we conservatively assume the modified approach at the plate would give him a floor of 30 homers a year, that’s only nine seasons to pass Kent’s 377 for the record.

The big question comes down to health.

Ozzie’s missed significant time in two of the last four years, only playing in 29 of a possible 60 games in 2020 due to injury and then 64 of 162 in 2022. Even this season, minor nagging issues forced Ozzie out of the lineup fourteen times, notable because Atlanta’s an organization that will allow their guys to play as much as they want, as we saw with Matt Olson playing all 162.

Ozzie Albies Dazzles as Atlanta Braves Split Series with Toronto Blue Jays  - Last Word On Baseball

Turning 27 in January, it’s entirely possible that Ozzie could play for nine more seasons, so he’d be on track to break the record in 2032 at the age of 36.

Doesn’t feel likely, though. Only 13 second basemen over the age of 30 have had seasons of 30 or more home runs, and none of them did it past the age of 34 (Jeff Kent in 2002 and Brett Boone in 2003).

I’ll admit there’s some selection bias here – we kept the “85% of games played at second base” filter on for that, so if some guys moved to different positions like first base or DH later in their careers, they weren’t counted in here.

But part of the reason Kent was able to stack up 377 homers as a primary 2nd baseman is he played the position through his age 40 season, spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. He hit 102 homers after the age of 35, but wasn’t really the same once he passed age 36; he hit only 46 across 372 games for the Dodgers after that point.

It just doesn’t feel like a thirty-homer pace for Ozzie all the way through the record is sustainable, based on past history for 2nd basemen, and any improvements in training and massaging an aging curve is probably offset by the league skewing younger and more veterans being phased out of their starting roles once they get past the age of 30.

And that doesn’t even count the lead that Houston’s Jose Altuve has on Albies – Altuve’s sitting on 209 homers through his age 33 season, although he only hit 17 this season due to injury.

Which should be a reminder that luck plays a part in this – Ozzie’s suffered some bad luck injuries the last few seasons, with most of his missing time in 2022 attributed to two different bone-breaking foul tips at the plate. Remember, Ozzie would need to hit 30 or more bombs each year for the next nine seasons to pass Kent – any injuries could make him either up the pace or play longer to get the record.

So is it possible? Yeah. Would we love for it to happen? Of course we would!

But is it likely? When you dive into the numbers and historical trends, it’s not.

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