Atlanta Braves 2024 season preview: Marcell Ozuna enters final year of contract

Ozuna looks to repeat a strong 2023 campaign

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Marcell Ozuna 2023 Recap

It's tough to find a player that was under more, well-deserved scrutiny, than Marcell Ozuna in 2023. Coming off of frankly horrible 2021 and 2022 seasons, and issues outside of baseball, while making significant money, Marcell had to deliver in 2023. It was not looking good through May as Marcell was hitting .213/.293/.460 with a fantastic 11 homers, but everything else wasn't looking good.

Once June started, everything changed as Marcell went on to appear in 102 games and hit .297/.367/.597 (29 homers) and turned what was once a blackhole in the lineup into a signficant plus for a Braves team that went on to have one of the best offenses in the history of the sport.

His 3.5 fWAR was the second highest amongst all designated hitters in baseball, trailing just Shohei Ohtani. Marcell hit both left and right-handed pitchers decently well with a .278 BAA LHP, and a .272 BAA RHP. His 40-homer total was the highest of his career as well. To say it another way, nobody needed 2023 more than Marcell Ozuna did.

The Atlanta Braves did a great job of supporting Ozuna through a tough beginning to the season. They knew the great clubhouse guy he was and his ability to help people like Michael Harris II and Matt Olson unlock their full potential. It was worth letting Ozuna work through his struggles for that reason alone.

What can fans and the organization expect in 2024?

Braves 2024 season preview: Ozuna's final contract year

Who really knows? Do we get the Marcell Ozuna of 2023? Or the one from 2021-2022? If the former, Marcell will essentially be penciled in for the DH spot every game this season. With some work at first in Spring Training, there is also the possibility that Marcell plays some first to give Matt Olson a few days off.

He looks to become a huge piece in a Braves offense that looks to continue to wreak absolute havoc against major league pitching. Most projections have Marcell coming back down to Earth a bit with around a .250 batting average, a .320 on-base percentage, and a .470 slugging percentage which would result in around a .800 OPS. Certainly a dip from last season, but still a good number for a major league hitter.

Fangraphs ZiPS projections have Ozuna hitting 25 home runs and driving in 78 runs this season. That feels a tad bit low on the RBI side of things but the 25 homers feel like a safe bet.

His 3.3 fWAR in 2023 was the highest he had since 2017, so to expect a season like last year is a bit unrealistic. With a club option for 2025, this is an important year for Marcell so expect a player that is locked in and looking to get an extension.

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