With Opening Day for the Miami Marlins tomorrow, we’ll be continuing to preview the upcoming season, right up until the first pitch of the season. Starting tomorrow morning at 4 AM EST, Marlin Maniac will be bringing you, our loyal readers, a 12-hour marathon of fresh content. That will be one new post an hour, leading up to game time. We’ll feature predictions, a round table discussion, and some bold predictions for the upcoming season. Be sure to check it all out.
Today we’ll continue looking at the best and worst case scenarios for Miami Marlins players for the 2015 season. Next up on the docket is center fielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, where he posted a .269/.317/.455 slash line with a 114 wRC+. He also hit 23 home runs en route to a 3.7 fWAR in his first full major league season.
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Ozuna’s great season was overshadowed by his fellow outfielders, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. Stanton was in the thick of the MVP discussions for much of the season and Yelich pulled out a gold glove award. Both Stanton and Yelich signed extensions this off-season, with Ozuna opting to wait it out, as advised by his agent Scott Boras.
This could be an excellent decision for the 24-year old, as many still believe he has another level of potential he has yet to reach. Tony Blengino, ESPN Insider, went as far as calling Ozuna the “next big thing.”
But what if Marcell Ozuna isn’t as good as he was last season?
Last season Ozuna struck out in 26.8% of his plate appearances and walked in just 6.7% of those. His .317 on base percentage left much to be desired and much of his offense is reliant on a career .333 BABIP.
It would be nice to see Ozuna lower his strikeout rate as well as get his walk rate a bit higher, that is not going to be a major concern for the upcoming season. He’s proven he can still be a capable hitter even with those numbers being less than ideal. Long-term, this is something he’ll need to fix though.
While Ozuna’s power is his calling card, we have to remember he does have a 291-plate appearance season in which he posted a .124 ISO. Could that have been attributed to his broken wrist he sustained before the season?
An injury certainly has to be the worst case scenario for Ozuna, as it was during the 2013 season. His power, as he proved last season, is legitimate and can only be beat by Giancarlo Stanton on the Miami Marlins. Ozuna also makes hard contact, which leads to a higher BABIP for him, which helps make up for his strikeouts.
Any sort of injury that would force Ozuna out of the lineup and force the 41-year old Ichiro Suzuki into a ton of playing time would hurt the Fish. While Ichiro was a pretty damn good hitter four-years ago, he’s not the same player now.
If Ozuna is dinged up by minor ailments and tries to play through them, he could potentially lose some of the power in his bat, which could hurt his overall value.
The 2015 ZiPS projections for Miami’s center fielder projects Ozuna to miss some time and rate his defense worse than it was last season.
ZiPS: .279/.308/.445, .331 wOBA, 109 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR in 133 games
Ozuna missing 29 games would be hard for the Marlins to swallow, as they aim for the post-season. Depending on your view of the Marlins outfield, he’s either the second or third best player on the team.
ZiPS also projects Ozuna to be worth 0 runs above average in center field in 2015. This is despite him being worth nearly five-runs above average last season, according to Fangraphs. Is Ozuna going to be able to repeat the defense he played last season in center? I’m interested to find out.
When healthy, ZiPS projects decent numbers from Ozuna in 2015. But, a 2.4 zWAR in which Ozuna misses nearly 30-games does not bode well for the Miami Marlins. Last year, he played 153 games for the team, he needs to be near that number again in 2015 for the Marlins to have a chance to contend.
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