The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of Marcell Ozuna

Marcell Ozuna has a very complicated relationship with Braves Country as he won them over early on. However, off-field issues and subpar on-field performance led to many feeling less than excited about having Ozuna on the team. He's worked hard to try and repair that relationship the best he can in 2023.

Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays
Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages
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Marcell Ozuna
Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves / Adam Hagy/GettyImages

Ozuna from the Braves

2022 wasn't any kinder to Ozuna who played 124 games and averaged a strikeout per AB with 122 Ks. He hit 23 home runs but sunk to a .226 average which was his lowest in years. On August 29th, around 4 a.m. Ozuna was pulled over by Police and suspected of DUI after weaving out of his lane.

Ozuna was captured on bodycam footage in a physically impaired state and was taken into custody shortly after. His second arrest in over a year was career suicide. Ken Rosenthal even spoke on the situation stating that he expected the Braves would release Ozuna from the team.

Ozuna was booed during each at-bat and became the butt of countless jokes for the next month. In the NLDS against the Phillies, Philly fans chanted "DUI" at Ozuna about his arrest, and Ozuna went hitless in the series.

The resurgence

At the beginning of this year, Ozuna had only two hits come the month of May. Those hits were two solo homers. It looked like his time with Atlanta was finished but as the team began a series against the Marlins in Miami, a place where Ozuna has always hit well, something, whatever it was, clicked for him. On May 5th, Ozuna came up to bat with an average of .085.

What followed from Ozuna was a three-hit explosion beginning with a grand slam, solo homer, and single. Despite this, people still scoffed at his .111 average. However, the hits didn't stop coming, and Ozuna embarked on what is described as a redemption tour.

Ozuna batted over .297 in May, with 9 homers, 27 hits, and 20 RBI. In June, he batted .309 with 25 hits, 5 homers, and 15 RBI. Since May 6th, Ozuna has been batting .278 with 55 hits, 12 home runs, 32 RBIs, and 27 runs scored in 54 games.

Ozuna has a slight slump going in July, with only one home run and a .214 average. However, what has led to his success is his plate vision. Marcell has practiced taking sliders outside and change-ups down for the last couple of months. As a result, his walk rate has increased and his strikeout percentage has decreased. This improvement has been an essential part of his revival.

So, where we stand now is the possibility of Ozuna living out the last few years of his contract with positive production on and off the field. He has taken great care to help his teammates with their struggles at the plate. Michael Harris II and Matt Olson have attributed their recent success at the plate, outside of their own work, to Ozuna taking time to talk with them about their swings and at-bats.

The Braves designated hitter is working to rebuild his reputation in the clubhouse and with fans. So far, Braves country has stopped booing Ozuna and this year could be when he finally turns things around for good. With the Braves pretty much a lock for the 2023 postseason, the question is: will we see the same Ozuna we did in 2020? Only time can answer that question.