Marcell Ozuna has received more hate from fans than any other Braves player in my lifetime, and it’s been well deserved.
Ever since signing a four-year, $65 million contract extension following his marvelous 2020 campaign, it’s been nothing short of a disaster, both on and off the field. Ozuna has been arrested twice and has been a below replacement level player for the last three seasons. Like most Braves fans, I’m shocked the organization has stuck with him as long as they have, but if it pays off, they’ll look like geniuses.
Ozuna’s start to the 2023 campaign has been pitiful. Through his first 17 games, he recorded just four hits (.073 batting average) and accrued nearly -1.0 WAR, which is almost impossible to do in such a short time. There’s no doubt he was on his last straw. The Braves sat him for nearly an entire week, and if they had cut him at any point, most would have said it was long overdue.
But they didn’t, and on a Tuesday night against the reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, something might have clicked. Marcell Ozuna put together his first multi-hit game of the season and also drew a walk, raising his batting average above .100 for the first time since April 1st! It was enough for Ozuna to earn another start on Wednesday, and he ensured Brian Snitker wouldn’t regret his decision.
In the top of the second inning with the bases loaded, Ozuna put the Braves on the board with the first grand slam of the season.
Marcell Ozuna: 404 feet, 111.6 mph.
He needed this. pic.twitter.com/eeq2qIQ352
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) May 3, 2023
Marcell Ozuna wasn’t done, either. After the Braves racked up seven runs in the second inning, he led off the third with a solo shot.
Marcell Ozuna is loving Miami tonight pic.twitter.com/QU1dY8Xxeh
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 3, 2023
Ozuna would add another hit in his next at-bat, going 3-for-5 with two homers and 5 RBIs. His OPS jumped nearly 200 points, and his batting average is now firmly over .100.
It’s a bit comical that we are celebrating a player that is still hitting more than 50 points below the dreaded Mendoza Line, but Ozuna has been putrid at the plate in 2023. Watching him have any success is worth applause. Now, it’s time to see if he’s actually figured something out, or if the last two games were just fool’s gold. There’s no doubt that the Braves are at their best when Ozuna is playing and contributing; however, he’ll have to show a little bit more before we start talking about him as an everyday player again.
Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire
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