Braves: Where is the love for Marcell Ozuna?

Marcell Ozuna

Baseball is finally back. The finely cut green grass, pinstripe uniforms, the crack of the bats, and specifically for Atlanta Braves fans, the neon arm sleeve has returned! No, I’m not talking about the new piece of apparel for the young phenom Ronald Acuña Jr. That is precisely the problem: why aren’t people talking about the All-Star that brought this style and swagger to Atlanta — Marcell Ozuna?

Ozuna had just five tweets mentioning his name within the hour up to first pitch on opening day, two of them were merely starting lineups. This ranked second to last among Braves starters, far behind stars like Acuña and Freddie Freeman, but also behind rookie outfielder Cristian Pache, third baseman Austin Riley and even second-year starting pitcher Ian Anderson, who did not have his first start of the season until Sunday.

This must only be fans, right? Well, when listening to the Braves broadcast Thursday afternoon, the now Bally Sports crew added to the disrespect. In the last studio segment, they said, ‘the Atlanta Braves are ready to take the field with their three best hitters Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman.’

Again, Acuña and reigning MVP Freeman are expected to be talked about and deservingly so. Albies, on the other hand, is a different story. Being a smaller than average second baseman growing up, Albies is one of my favorite players on the team, but after an injury-plagued 2020 and Ozuna’s All-Star caliber year, Ozuna should be talked about as much as anybody.

The two-time All-Star is coming off the best statistical season of his career. In a 162-game season, Ozuna’s pace would have left him with 11 more home runs and 25 more RBIs than his previous career-highs. Heading into the last week of the 2020 season, he was within striking distance of the triple crown. He finished with the most home runs and RBIs and was third in batting average with another career-high of .338, finishing just three hits shy of this prestigious feat.


And this is the guy that was not even mentioned as a top-three hitter on his own team?

The advanced stats do not hurt Ozuna’s case either. According to Baseball-Reference, the nine-year veteran finished top 10 in nearly every advanced stat category, including tied for first in runs created with his teammate Freeman, nine above any other player with 65.

One of the most significant assets Ozuna has brought to the lineup is protection for Freeman. The Braves first baseman had zero intentional walks in 2020 for the first time. Beyond the numbers, though, Ozuna is also a leader in the clubhouse. Acuña considered him a must-sign in free agency this winter.

The Big Bear, as he is commonly known, finished sixth in MVP voting and earned the second silver slugger award of his career in 2020. I am not asking people to stop talking about the other Braves; I’m just asking to add Ozuna into these conversations consistently as one of the stars, right where he belongs.

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