Braves: Marcell Ozuna has a chance for a historic calendar year

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The 180 Marcell Ozuna has accomplished over the last 12 months is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Not only has his play on the field gone from unplayable to one of the best offensive players in baseball, but his reputation off the field has continued to move in a positive direction, thanks in large part to the words of his teammates, who have had his back despite everything that has transpired.

There are some Braves fans who are never going to be alright with Marcell Ozuna being on the team, and that’s perfectly fine. He’s made mistakes, and they are ones he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life. I’m a believer in second chances, and I’m hopeful things continue to trend in the right direction in that regard, just as much as they have on the field. Because right now, there may not be a better offensive player in baseball.

By the end of April last year, Marcell Ozuna was hitting .086. He had all but lost his starting job and was getting booed on his home field by the entire park. Then a trip to Miami changed everything. The Big Bear racked up six hits in a three-game series against the Fish, including three home runs. He won his starting job back, and the rest is history.

Since that series, Ozuna is hitting over .300 with 45 homers and 120 RBIs. Now, if you do the math on that, he has a couple of weeks left to hit five home runs, and he’ll have 50 bombs in a calendar year and at least 125 RBIs.

Of course, if Marcell Ozuna does hit five more home runs by the end of the month, it won’t count as a 50-HR season, but it’s still one of the most incredible stretches we’ve seen in baseball over the last decade. Since 2014, only four players have hit 50+ home runs in the season — Aaron Judge (twice), Pete Alonso, Giancarlo Stanton, and Matt Olson.

What makes Ozuna’s turnaround even crazier is it’s not like he’s been this incredible power hitter his entire career. Even before all of the controversy, he’d only hit more than 30 homers once in his career, when he hit 37 long balls back in 2017 with the Marlins. Last season was the first time he ever recorded 40 home runs in a single season, and I thought there was a good chance he would regress to the mean.

But perhaps this is just who the Big Bear is now. Ozuna is riding a 14-game hit streak into Tuesday night’s clash against the Astros, over which he’s hitting .397 with seven home runs and a 1.225 OPS. This is no longer just a hot stretch. It might be time to start talking about Marcell Ozuna as one of the elite offensive talents in the game.

Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

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