Sep 29, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Now that the rumor mill has stopped churning, at least for a little bit, it’s time to weigh what the value of NOT trading Ozuna is. After rumors that owner Jeffrey Loria was displeased with Ozuna’s 2015 performance, throughout the winter meetings Ozuna was one of the hottest names on the trade market. With interest from around seven to ten teams, it was surprising that Ozuna was not dealt during the meetings. Regardless, he is still on the Marlins roster with the offseason just under way.
First thing is that Ozuna could develop into a potential superstar. He’s flashed plenty of potential and he is only 25 years old and has only spent two full seasons in the big leagues. There’s still plenty of time for him to flourish into a prolific major league hitter. With Barry Bonds coming in, he could help his development even further as a hitter.
Ozuna flashed legitimate potential in 2014 smashing 23 and batting in 85 runs. He created 91 runs for the Fish and looked fast-tracked for big league stardom after his breakout opening act. With the Marlins outfield for the forseable future set up, it looked like Ozuna would be on the fast track to stardom.
Then 2015 happened and everything went south for Marcell Ozuna. He was sent down to AAA an excursion in which he likened to being in jail. His time in the major leagues was largly unproductive, pairing a streaky bat with bad play in the outfield and Ozuna’s 2015 season was a complete disaster.
Ozuna’s career dropped off quicker than a speeding roller coaster. He went from a three-win player to a one-win player in the course of 123 major league games. Playing in 153 games in 2014, Ozuna struggled through 123 starts in Miami having drops in batting average, on base percentage, runs created, and slugging. Virtually every key hitting statistic regressed in 2015.
Ozuna’s biggest mystery in 2015 was his decrease in strikeouts but also having a decrease in walks. Ozuna walked in 6.7% of his at-bats in 2014, and only walked 6.1% of the time in 2015. To his credit, Ozuna did cut down on strikeouts fairly significantly in 2015 from a 26.8 K% to a 22.3 K%.
After his rough season Ozuna had fallen out of favor with the Marlins front office reportedly leading to the dismissal of Dan Jennings. The Fish wasted no time hitting the trade market, making Ozuna a hot item, demanding large returns for him. With no team willing to pony up the large sum of assets needed to acquire him, Ozuna is off the market and will more than likely suit up for the Marlins on opening day.
So why should you be encouraged that Ozuna can turn things around? Some of the flaws in Ozuna’s play at the plate could potentially be worked out by new hitting coach Barry Bonds. Many people have said that nobody in the game knows the art of hitting better than Bonds.
Also, many big time players have gone through a “sophomore slump” which is precisely the case with Ozuna. After a jackrabbit start to his career, his second year slump hit him hard. Maybe it’s just the adjustment from being the new kid on the block to an everyday big league player that threw Ozuna so viciously into a tailspin.
Not trading shows one of two things, that the Marlins could not get rid of him, or that they feel he can turn things around. Until a trade happens Ozuna will inevitably be a big part of the Marlins future plans and a solid 2016 could take some heat off of him.