Marcell Ozuna. You either like him, or you don't. He has created a complicated legacy for himself in the eyes of Atlanta Braves fans. When the Braves signed him to a four-year deal in 2020, nobody expected him to fall from grace so hard.
After winning a sliver slugger, batting over .300, and going off in the 2020 postseason, Ozuna found himself batting .87 in May of this year, getting booed at each plate appearance, and the being topic of countless trade conversations.
However, in Miami, where he played his first formative years in the MLB, something clicked for Ozuna, and he hasn't looked back. What changed for him? Is he back? And what's next? I intend to answer these questions today.
Before the fall
Marcell Ozuna started his career with the Miami Marlins. In his first five years, he batted .265, .269, .259, .266. and .312. Ozuna gained his reputation as a power hitter in Miami. That final year in 2017 was a strong one, as he batted .500 and went 10 for 20 with three home runs, seven RBIs, and six runs scored in the last week of September.
His .312 average and .924 OPS caught the eye of the St Louis Cardinals and MLB.com rated Ozuna "The best-left fielder in the major leagues" in 2018. Marcell was traded to the Cardinals in December 2017 and signed a one-year deal in January 2018. In his first season with the Cardinals, Ozuna did not disappoint. His month of June was stellar, batting over .400 with an OPS north of .900. Over the season, he would go on to hit 28 home runs, with 88 RBIs in 143 games to a .280 average.
In Ozuna's contract year, his performance was halted by a finger fracture, and he was out until August. Ozuna slashed .243/.330/.804 upon reactivation with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs in 130 games. During the NLDS against the Braves, he would show his postseason prowess, batting .429 with 9 hits and 5 RBI in five games.