Since starting the season with an .085 batting average in the month of April, Marcell Ozuna has been the best bat in the Braves lineup for going on four months now.
That’s not hyperbole, either.
The Big Bear has become a weapon in the middle of the Braves lineup again, just like he was back in 2020 when he nearly stole the NL MVP from Freddie Freeman on the way to the triple crown, which is what earned him a four-year, $65 million new contract with the Braves. Since the calendar turned to May, Ozuna has blasted 29 home runs. He’s hitting .296 over that stretch and is boasting a .951 OPS.
It’s not absurd to call him the best designated hitter in baseball right now, not named Shohei Ohtani. It’s also not crazy to say he’s the guy the Braves want up most in the ninth inning of a Game 7 if it were to take place tomorrow.
That is almost unthinkable considering where he was just a few months ago. It seemed like he was a day away from finally getting released, and Braves Country would have rejoiced. But he’s found his mojo again and is a big reason why this Braves offense might go down as the best in MLB history.
What was also unimaginable a few months ago is the Braves picking up Ozuna’s $16 million option for the 2025 season. Remember, as I wrote about yesterday, this is a guy the Braves were trying to trade for Patrick Corbin this time last year, who is the worst starting pitching in baseball and was still owed over $60 million. The Braves were trying to do everything in their power to offload the remainder of Ozuna’s contract, and now, there’s actually a chance they end up picking up his option in about 15 months.
I wouldn’t say it’s a guarantee. Ozuna is going to have to prove this recent stretch isn’t a flash in the pan. But I will say, the thought of Alex Anthopoulos having to go out this offseason and find a more competent designated hitter is now a distant memory. Ozuna is the guy next year, and he very well may be in 2025 as well.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire