Marcell Ozuna has been one of the worst hitters in Major League Baseball this season, batting just .073/.192/.200 in 63 trips to the plate this year. The Braves, however, don’t appear set to make a change of any kind, writes Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Toscano spoke with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, manager Brian Snitker and Ozuna himself about the former slugger’s struggles. Seitzer praised Ozuna’s spring training form and opined that he’s placing too much pressure on himself. “[Ozuna] works so hard and cares so much and tries so hard, started caring too much and trying too hard, and that’s what’s leading to where he’s at right now,” Seitzer tells Toscano.
Perhaps there’s something to that, but Seitzer didn’t address the fact that Ozuna’s struggles aren’t exactly contained to 2023 alone. While he swatted 23 home runs a season ago, he did so with the fourth-worst on-base percentage among all qualified hitters (.274). Dating back to 2021, Ozuna has come to the plate 778 times and posted an anemic .210/.271/.381 batting line, and his strikeout rate has worsened each year along the way. He’s currently hitting the ball on the ground at a career-high 51.4%, which doesn’t bode well for a hitter whose once well above-average sprint speed now sits in just the 20th percentile of MLB hitters, per Statcast.
The Braves, of course, still have Ozuna signed through the end of the 2024 season. He’s being paid $18MM this season and next, with a $1MM buyout on an option for the 2025 season. He’s served a 20-game suspension for violating MLB’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy and also been arrested on a a DUI charge while playing out his current four-year, $65MM deal.
That contract surely plays a role in the team’s unwillingness to move on from a player whose past 800 big league plate appearances simply haven’t been productive. Injuries have also thinned out the roster, leaving Ozuna with more playing time than he might be afforded if the lineup were at full strength. The Braves will seemingly take some steps toward that fully healthy lineup in the near future, however. The team announced this morning that Michael Harris II is heading out on a minor league rehab assignment. The team hasn’t provided a formal timetable for when the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, but getting Harris going in a minor league setting is a positive encouragement all the same.
Harris’ looming return will crowd the outfield mix a bit, but David O’Brien of The Athletic writes that Sam Hilliard’s hot start to the season figures to keep him in the mix even after Harris is back. That’ll likely mean a steady dose of left field playing time for Hilliard, who’s out to a .327/.400/.592 start with three home runs and four doubles in 55 plate appearances.
That Herculean production from Hilliard, however, is propped up by a sky-high .520 average on balls in play and comes in spite of a 38.2% strikeout rate. He’s still making hard contact when he does put bat to ball and showing good speed, but Hilliard’s contact woes and good fortune on balls in play point to clear regression.
Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, who’s working with the Braves’ coaching staff as a hitting consultant, spoke highly of Hilliard to O’Brien, suggesting that if the team can get Hilliard to cut back on his massive strikeout rate, there’s a good bit of upside in his bat. That’s surely true, but strikeouts have been an issue the 29-year-old has been unable to correct at any point in his career. Hilliard has a 33.2% strikeout rate in 694 plate appearances dating back to his days with the Rockies, and he’s punched out in 28.4% of his 930 Triple-A plate appearances and 31.1% of his 484 Double-A plate appearances.
Ozuna one of the worst hitters in baseball?
Ya don’t say….
I’m sick of the “Ozuna is working so hard” crap. His arrest was in conjunction with in partying late into the night/morning on a game day while during a time he was just as terrible hitting. He doesn’t have a history of being a hard worker and he needs to be cut immediately
Says something when a fan is thankful they have Hicks on their team and not you.
Fernando Ringworm Jr.
How was Ozuna only suspended for like 20 games and still employed by a MLB but Bauer got a season and a half, was immediately released when that ended and has basically been blackballed by all 30 teams? What Ozuna did was worse and he topped it off with a DUI arrest.
Serious question btdubs.
Especially concerning since his assault to place in front of a cop
Imagine being the hitting coach and being obligated to devote so much of your time on this wifebeater.
The last thing Ozuna hit consistently was his wife….
The last thing he drove hard was his G Wagon… drunk….
The original narrative that was reported apparently wasn’t accurate. His wife allegedly contributed to the altercation.
Fernando Ringworm Jr.
LH literally asked Bauer in writing to do these things to her and they found texts to her AA sponsor about “securing a bag.” So you saying Ozuna only got 20 days because the alleged victim in his case was flawed as a person… that doesn’t really track. And clearly the cops don’t agree that what Bauer did was worse considering Ozuna was arrested and Bauer wasn’t.
@bham His wife also tried to stab him with a knife in another altercation years before the police video one that is always talked about. It was easily predictable that Ozuna was going to have more controversy with his wife.
He has hit the ball hard at position players this years at times tho from an on the field perspective. This guy is just too good if he is on a hot streak and they probably can’t move the contract or don’t want to stomach it.
Sid Bream Speed Demon
It didn’t happen in front of the cops, they came in at the tail end, as evidenced by the body cam footage. All they were able to see was him push her away by her neck, which isn’t a great look, but it’s a far cry better than what Bauer was accused of.
And not to victim shame or whatever, but the wife is apparently a lot. She threw some dishes or something at him the year before. They really probably shouldn’t be together.
“What Bauer was accused of” which evidence shows was not the real story. What evidence showed was Bauer and this woman had consensual rough intercourse.
Bauer had the book thrown at him because he’s been mocking the commissioners office for years and they finally got something that they could suspend him for.
Ozuna fell victim to perception as well, as people think he was choking his wife and not holding her away because that is what was reported in the news.
What I don’t understand is why keep Ozuna when he’s literally been an embarrassment to the franchise. There was domestic violence incident, the drunk driving and the terrible play on the field. He isn’t Chris Davis who donated tens of millions of dollars to Balitimore pediatrics. He isn’t Jason Heyward who is/was another pillar of the community. Ozuna is the wrong example to send to young players. Imo.
Fernando: The real question is and always should be….But what was he *convicted* of?! (By a legitimate jury in a legitimate court overseen by a legitimate judge, that is).
Fernando Ringworm Jr.
Manfred doesn’t need a conviction to suspend a player but what Ozuna did was clearly worse than what Bauer did so I wanna know why Ozuna hasn’t been blackballed from the league yet.
Fernando: Just because there are fascist, unConstitutional policies in place—that the frauds in the player’s union agreed to—that allow Manfred Mann to punish players even if there are no arrests, charges, indictments, trials, or convictions doesn’t make it okay.
As for why Ozuna gets special treatment, I have no idea. Any thoughts?
One perhaps-out-there theory is that Bauer was in on this whole thing, paid (ordered) to take a dive, as part of the MEN ARE TOXIC SCUM!! project.
Why dont they send Ozuna to AAA to see if he can learn to hit again, Like they did with Duvall back in the day? Give LF to Hilliard and Rosario to the bench/DH (When MHII gets back)
Well, he certainly would not be claimed if they put him through waivers.
Ozuna is a sunk cost. You have a 3 year history of his terrible play. Get rid of him.
Can’t send him down. He has too much service time. He would become a free agent if removed from the active roster.
@Seam, he would become a FA if he were to go unclaimed and then opt out of his contract. He clearly would go unclaimed and there is no way he’d opt out of his contract. He would make a fraction of what he’s owed the next 2 seasons.
His contract is guaranteed because he has more than 5 years MLB service time. He can refuse a demotion and still get paid.
The downside to that? No one is picking him up and the money is spent either way. Get him off the roster to make room for someone that has a possibility of playing well.
It’s past time to let Ozuna go we don’t need him and nobody else does either or someone would’ve traded us out of him just have to eat the lost never cared for him anyway especially after the domestic violence and then after that a DUI we use not tolerate our players doing that kind of crime remember Furcal he was a DUI man and shipped him out I have been a fan since early 70s the Braves had high standards where did they go its time to let the problem go he’s still gets his money
Sid Bream Speed Demon
Oh yeah, super high standards with Chipper cheating on his wife a bunch and Bobby Cox beating his. Come on.
Last time he choked up and made contact with anything.
Should have been gone right then and there.
He’s not so old that his terrible performance of the last few years would likely be age-related decline. That may play a role in the Braves decision. But he surely is terrible, and anyone on a substantially cheaper contract would have been shown the door.
He cares to much and tries to hard…..so that’s the problem. Thanks for clearing that up.
Cheating Carlos Correa No. 2 in the order and so lousy that he’s first to be PH.
What the article doesn’t mention is the fact that Hilliard is also being alot more selective with the pitches that he’s chosing to swing at. That has also played a significant role in his hot start to the season.
Now, I’m not saying he can keep this up, because I highly doubt it, but there’s more to his production than just hitting the ball hard and BABIP luck..
When it comes to Ozuna, once Harris comes back and especially with d’Arnaud back in the fold, Ozuna will be more or less an afterthought.
With Hilliard hitting as well as he has been, with Rosario showing signs of life, and with Pillar’s defense in LF, Ozuna will be hard pressed to even see barely any ABs, unless it is against a pitcher that he has hit well against in the past or something…
So, even if Hilliard comes back down to Earth, Ozuna will be fighting for ABs with three to four other players, for sometomes two spots, but majority of the time there will typically only be one open spot in the lineup…
d’Arnaud or Murphy whichever isn’t catching will likely DH, and then it is down to either Hilliard, Rosario, Pillar, or Ozuna for ABs in LF…Again not really worried that he’ll be getting any significant ABs moving forward…
Eating the remainder of Ozuna’s contract at this point would be addition by subtraction
They need to just put him on waivers and after he’s unclaimed leave him no choice but to accept getting sent down. Free up a roster spot and maybe by some small miracle he works through his struggles at the plate.
He won’t accept a demotion to AAA, at least not with the Braves. Once he clears waivers he’ll become a free agent and some team will sign him for league minimum with the hope they can fix him.
@Rsox, that will never happen. If he were to decline going to Triple A he voids his contract. He is not walking away from $36 million over the next 2 seasons and a buyout in 2025 of $1 million that is more than the league minimum.
@Tigers: His contract is guaranteed because he has more than 5 years MLB service time. He can refuse a demotion and still get paid.
I remember the Cardinals mortgaging their future for this clown.
I love how these clowns write as if they’ve ever hit a baseball before LOL seriously your writing is terrible
LOL sprint speed what a reach you analytics clowns are so pathetic
Doesn’t take analytics to see that Ozuna blows.
DFA Ozuna…I will die on this Hilliard.
For me at the end of the day, if you have a tomahawk across your chest I’m pulling for you. However, Ozuna looks cooked. Also, is it just me or does he look a little “round” in the midsection and upper body? Not trying to crush the dude but you would think with the way his play has been and with all his value in his at bat that he would approach this season with urgency and come to ST in peak physical condition. His arm is shot and OF defense is barely passable. Again, I’m knit picking, but I’ve seen him in the past leaner and trimmer. Being in top physical shape could only help him and to me that’s not the case. You are getting boo’d in Atlanta, that is extremely hard to do cause as a whole, Braves Country is pretty forgiving. Really sad. That 26 man roster spot will become valuable soon when Travis and Harris II are ready to go.
“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”.
-Dean Wormer, Faber College
“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily” – John (Bluto) Blutarsky
Don’t know until you try it.
Fat and complacent.
Hard to motivate some who have become sated.
Let him out at the next intersection.
Now imagine if the Ozuna contract ends up costing us Max Fried…
I don’t think one affects the other. I do think jettisoning Ozuna improves the Braves’ chances of going further in the post-season, which would generate more revenue and slightly increase the chances of re-signing Fried.
I think the Fried extension comes down to how many years AA thinks he’s worth signing for. He’s shown a reluctance to over-extend players. Maybe that was a lesson he learned from the Ozuna contract.
It won’t, the Braves are not trading Ozuna. They either ride it out or eat what’s left of his deal
I never said they would trade him. I said jettison. If you were replying to History, then nvm.
I was replying to @History.
What you say is true. However History thinking the Braves would package Fried just to get rid of Ozuna is foolish
I think he was saying that Ozuna’s expensive contract would push the payroll to a point that it would hinder the Braves’ ability to re-sign Max. I could be wrong.
The Braves have $166 million in committing payroll for next season and Fried is stll Arbitration eligible for one more season with $36 million coming off that number in ’25. Ozuna will not hamper the Braves ability to extend Fried
I agree. They have the ability. Do they have the will?
That remains to be seen but is a completely unrelated issue to Ozuna
My bad! I thought Max was up for UFA after this season. Apologies…
Pathetic end to the Marlins series. 4 game set up on NY, all the “horses” are lined up, let’s go Bravos time to make a statement up at Citi that the Division still rolls through the ATL.