The Braves announced that second baseman Ozzie Albies has fractured his left foot. He departed tonight’s game against the Nationals in the fifth inning after suffering the injury.
Albies stumbled out of the batter’s box after hitting a ground-ball to shortstop. He was able to walk off the field under his own power, but he immediately departed the game and initial x-rays revealed a fracture. The club will no doubt provide a more specific timetable for his recovery over the coming days, but it’s likely he’s in for an extended absence.
The switch-hitting Albies has started 61 of Atlanta’s 62 games at the keystone. The lone other start went to utilityman Orlando Arcia, who’d seem to be the likeliest candidate to take over the position moving forward. Aside from the starting infield of Matt Olson, Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley, the only other primary infielders on the Atlanta 40-man roster are first baseman/DH Mike Ford and recent waiver claim Kramer Robertson. The latter is capable of playing second base but has exactly one MLB plate appearance under his belt.
Arcia has hit well in limited playing time off the bench this season, but he’s been a below-average offensive player in every other year of his career. The former Brewer shortstop is a lifetime .244/.295/.365 hitter in a bit more than 2000 plate appearances at the big league level. Albies is a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner who has been above-average at the dish in every full season of his career.
Albies had been off to a bit of a slow start this year, as he owns a personal-worst .244/.289/.405 line through 263 trips to the plate. He’d rated well defensively, though, and his career track record suggested he was likely to turn the corner offensively. Those efforts will now be put on hold.
The Braves have been playing as well as anyone in the sport over the past few weeks. They’re amidst an 11-game win streak that has pushed them to 34-27 entering play Monday. A slow start coupled with the Mets’ excellent first couple months still has Atlanta five and a half games back in the NL East standings, but the defending champions currently occupy the league’s third and final Wild Card spot.
Depending on how long Albies is expected to miss, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his staff could turn to the trade market for help. Players such as Brandon Drury (Reds), Rougned Odor (Orioles) and César Hernández (Nationals) are impending free agents on non-competitive teams and aren’t going to demand a huge trade return. If the club looks internally for depth behind Arcia, non-roster veterans Phil Gosselin, Hernán Pérez and Pat Valaika are at Triple-A Gwinnett, as is recent waiver claim Joe Dunand. Gosselin, in particular, is hitting well with the Stripers this season.