The Braves featured a number of surprising storylines on their way to winning 104 games and shattering a boatload of records, but I’m not sure anything was more out of the blue than Marcell Ozuna going from a tomato can to having a career year.
2021 and 2022 were years Marcell Ozuna would probably like to delete from his memory. From off-the-field issues to his dismal performance on the field, it’s somewhat mind-boggling that the Braves even held onto him. But not only did they decide to keep him on the roster, they kept putting him in the lineup as a starter.
The fan base did not take too kindly to it. From his first at-bat in 2023, boos reigned down every time he stepped into the batter’s box at Truist Park. It was almost sad to watch transpire as if we were watching the downfall of a once spectacular baseball player before our very eyes, even if much of it was due to his own transgressions.
Marcell Ozuna went on to hit .085 in the month of April. He was a sore spot in an otherwise otherworldly lineup. Few could understand how the Braves were letting this continue, which Brian Snitker spoke about this afternoon in an interview with 92.9 The Game.
"I just couldn't bring myself to sit there and look at this guy, knowing what he was capable of and how he was handling it, and not just continue to give it a crack and try to light the fire."
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) October 5, 2023
That kind of patience from the entire organization paid off considerable dividends. Marcell Ozuna has been arguably the best DH in all of baseball since May 1st, mashing 38 homers and hitting nearly .300. He finished the season with 40 homers and 100 RBIs, and is now one of the primary reasons most folks think the Braves offense cannot be stopped in October.
This isn’t just a revitalized version of The Big Bear; this is the best version of The Big Bear that there’s ever been.
Marcell Ozuna has made mistakes that may haunt him for the rest of his life, but what kept him afloat within the organization was his positive attitude and work ethic. He’s overcome an obstacle that most thought was impossible to overcome, and when he steps into the batter’s box in Game 1 of the NLDS, the reaction from the crowd at Truist Park will be much different than the one he received on Opening Day.
Photo: Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire