Braves’ rollercoaster 2024 season could see unexpected All-Star Game appearance

Atlanta's designated hitter has earned the chance to start the MLB All-Star Game in 2024.

Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves
Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Atlanta Braves fans hoped they would get another great season from designated hitter Marcell Ozuna. However, they couldn't have expected him to be THIS good. Ozuna is rivaling arguably the best player in baseball in the early NL MVP race.

Everyone knows Shohei Ohtani is a special player but the fact that Marcell Ozuna is outperforming him in multiple statistics is mind-blowing. Considering fans were ready to have the team DFA Ozuna due to poor performance, that is a wild thing to say.

Ozuna's turnaround has been nothing short of incredible and he's earned the respect of his teammates and Braves fans alike. He worked on improving himself on and off the field and it's easy to see.

Braves’ rollercoaster 2024 season could see unexpected All-Star Game appearance

Early results recently returned for the first phase of voting for the 2024 MLB All-Star game and Ozuna received the second-most votes among designated hitters in the NL. Atlanta sent six position players to the All-Star game in 2023 but Ozuna may be the only one this season.

Atlanta should have representation from Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez as well. They both have been absolutely incredible for the Braves rotation this season.

However, with Ozuna, he has a hill to climb if he is going to start the All-Star game. He is half a million votes behind Shohei Ohtani who had over 1 million votes after the first phase. Marcell deserves to start the All-Star game after working so hard to maintain this level of performance.

The unfortunate news for Ozuna is that most fans could care less about that and just want to see the big names featured during the Summer Classic. There's no doubt Marcell will at least make the team but he's earned the right to start.

Ozuna was leading the NL in all triple-crown categories (HR, RBI, OPS) back on June 17 and that's incredible. Ohtani has since passed him in a few of those but it's still really close.

Ozuna is batting .316/.390/.599 with 20 HR (second in NL), 63 RBI (first in NL), and a .989 OPS (second in NL). He has been insanely good for the Braves and the main reason they weren't buried in the division or wild card race.

It's no secret the Atlanta offense had struggled for the first couple of months but Ozuna was a constant factor and always seemed to come through in big moments. Luckily, the offense has started to pick up steam so things are trending in the right direction.

Marcell has played 72 games so far in 2024 and he's been locked since the first game. Had he not stumbled through the first month of 2023, he'd probably have had similar numbers through 72 games last season.

Through 72 games in 2023, he had a line of .246/.321/.473 with 17 homers, 40 RBI, and a .794 OPS. He reached the 72-game mark on July 8 2023 but has already reached the 72-game mark in 2024 by June 20. Atlanta hasn't wanted or needed to give him days off as he's been paramount to the team's success.

A lot of people like to point out that Ohtani is so much better than Ozuna and while Ohtani certainly has more tools than Marcell does, it shouldn't diminish what has been an incredible season for him. Some have even pointed to his personal struggles in the past as a reason to overlook him but that would be shortsighted of them to do.

Ozuna has gained back the respect of the organization, his peers, and Braves fans. He worked hard to improve those things and has taken the necessary accountability. He also worked hard to get himself back to the player Atlanta expected when they signed him to a multi-year contract.

He's become a huge part of this team and has helped many Braves players get through tough slumps and keeps a positive energy around the clubhouse. A recent example showing how great of a teammate Marcell is occurred when Forrest Wall was recalled to Atlanta. Ozuna gifted Wall and Zack Short one of his pro-model Louisville Slugger bats.

Ozuna was asked what the purpose of gifting them a bat was and responded with "Some of these guys who come up, I just want them to have a nice bat. I want them to feel included. It's just something I do."

Short and Wall stated how great of a mentor Ozuna has been for so many in the clubhouse this season. That shows you that he has worked hard to be a great part of this organization on and off the field. Wall also used that bat during Monday's game against the Tigers and drove in the game-tying run.

There is a great argument for Ozuna to be the starting designated hitter for the All-Star game. It would be his third All-Star appearance and his first since 2017. He's done everything you'd expect from a star player on a contending team. He should be rewarded for all the hard work he's put in to become a better player and, more importantly, a better person.

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