Marcell Ozuna's red-hot start highlights why the Braves didn't give up on him

The 2023 Braves broke a lot of records, headlined by Ronald Acuña Jr, Matt Olson, and Austin Riley. However, their lights shined so brightly that one of the league’s best run producers went unnoticed.
Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna is healthy, focused, and once again one of the league's best run producers.
Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna is healthy, focused, and once again one of the league's best run producers. / Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
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What does this mean for Marcell Ozuna?

SEAGER recognizes that sometimes it’s a good idea to swing at a hittable non-strike to create runs - In the dark ages, we called this expanding the zone – and a way of measuring success. Orr’s data also tells us how often batters do damage when they swing at these pitches.

In 2023, players with a SEAGER of at least 19.9% - yes, I fudged one-tenth of a percent to include Riley – and 250 PA are paired with their damage per BBE, four Braves appear in the top ten. Data come from the spreadsheet linked in Orr’s post.

  • Aaron Judge – SEAGER 23.4% - Damage/BBE 49%
  • Matt Wallner – SEAGER 21% - Damage/BBE 39%
  • Matt Olson - SEAGER 21.0% - Damage/BBE 38%
  • Mike Trout - SEAGER 24.1% - Damage/BBE 36%
  • Yordan Alvarez- SEAGER 21.2% - Damage/BBE 36%
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. - SEAGER 24.1% - Damage/BBE 35%
  • Marcell Ozuna - SEAGER 20.7% - Damage/BBE 35%
  • Corey Seager - SEAGER 25.8% - Damage/BBE 34%
  • Austin Riley - SEAGER 19.9% - Damage/BBE 34%

It’s not surprising that MLB’s 2023 home run champ is third in this group, that the league’s first 40/70 player is sixth, or that Riley checks in at ninth. It may surprise you to find Marcell Ozuna just behind Acuña in seventh.

Keyed in to watch for this after reading the post, I saw Ozuna do it successfully seven times over the last five days. Here’s one of them.

I underestimated Ozuna because I didn’t look deep enough into his history. I didn’t realize that 2020 aside, 2023 was his first completely healthy season since 2017. He damaged his shoulder in 2018, lost the last two months of the season, and had shoulder surgery that October.

He came back in 2019, injured the fingers on his right hand in August, and fought his way through the season, but as I’ve written in the past, it takes at least a year before a shoulder returns to anything resembling its pre-surgery strength.

Last season, quietly because everyone was watching Olson, Acuña, Riley, and Strider, he once again looked like the sought-after offensive player he was projected to become back in 2013.

All I'm saying is that regardless of your opinion of the man, it’s time to understand that a healthy Marcell Ozuna is one of the game’s most dangerous hitters. And, if you watch closely, you’ll see how he can look so bad and still be that good.

In a later post, Orr ranked the teams with the best SEAGER score, and the Atlanta Braves ranked second on the list with a 15.9 team SEAGER but first in Damage/BBE with 27%. The ranking isn’t a shock because of the way the lineup performed in 2023.

Atlanta Braves Fans are keenly aware of pitch location when a batter strikes out and are quick to groan and complain about it; I do it all the time. Occasionally, you’ll hear one say, “That pitch wasn’t even a strike,” or “How did he hit that?”

Marcell Ozuna is one of the best run producers in the game, and it’s time for Braves’ fans to understand that and recognize how important he is to the team’s success.

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