Marlins Marcell Ozuna: Can We Trust Him Heading Into 2017?

Marcell Ozuna had a bounce back season for the Marlins in 2016. But, can fantasy owners trust him heading into next season?

The Marlins would like to forget about the 2016 season for a multitude of reasons, but one of the few bright spots, was the bounce back from Marcell Ozuna. After an ugly 2015, that saw him demoted and his future with the team in limbo, he was able to turn things around this season. But, after such inconsistency, can fantasy owners believe in him next season?

Marcell Ozuna is one of the countless examples of an extremely talented players, who seemingly struggle to put it altogether. He has only been the league for four seasons, three of which where he was looked at as a starter. and things have been inconsistent to say the least. In 2014, he was a great surprise. He posted a, .269/23 HR/85 RBI/.772 OPS line. But, just as fantasy owners were interested in his services, 2015 proved to be a nightmare.

Ozuna never got things going in 2015, wound up being demoted, and there was serious consideration by the Marlins of ridding themselves of the headache. Yet, they held steady, and banked on a new coaching staff to turn him around. For the most part, that was the case and worked, but is there enough here to believe in?

He finished the 2016 season with an eerily similar line compared to 2014, .266/23 HR/76 RBI/.773 OPS. Ozuna once again showed that he has the raw skill to shine at the big league level.

His month of May was something out of a video game, .411/7 HR/17 RBI/1.155 OPS, propelling him to an All-Star nomination.

However, things got ugly over the second half. After posting a, .307/17 HR/47 RBI line during the first half, he would follow that with an abysmal, .209/6 HR/29 RBI line over the last 63 games. Things got really ugly after August 1st, as Ozuna would only post 4 HR/18 RBI over the last 47 games to finish the season. So, what went wrong?

Looking at Ozuna’s batted ball data, things are not exactly doom and gloom. His 20% LD rate, 45% Med contact, and 37% Hard contact rate, are respectable.  His BB rate actually rose during the second half too, but he simply stop hitting the ball as hard as he was prior to August. From March-July, Ozuna was posting near 42% Hard contact rates, but never even eclipsed the 38.3% mark over the last four moths of the season.

If Ozuna wants to turn things around for good, he has to draw more than 43 BB. There is is no reason to swing at everything, if he is not going to bother stealing an bases, which he did not. In terms of his counting stats, the Marlins have enough firepower to be a dangerous club, so at worse, he offers solid production there. Playing at Marlins Park does him no favors either, but 12 of his HR came at home last season, so the raw power is legitimate.

The Marlins, and fantasy owners alike, would like to the ability to say with certainty that Ozuna is here to stay. The problem is, it is nearly impossible to predict what version will show. He is extremely talented, and there is potential 30+ HR production here,  but what fantasy owner is going to be willing to invest the mid round draft stock to find out?

The best case scenario with Marcell Ozuna, is to let him fall to you. A safe projection would be around a, .265/20 HR/80 RBI/70 R/.770 OPS line. That type of production is great, and perfectly within Ozuna’s grasp. The BB rate is still an issue, and it hard to see him changing his approach, but the power will continue to draw owners in.

Make Marcell Ozuna a mid-round selection, but not a player that is worth reaching for. Cautious optimism has to be paramount here, and operating under that though process will only increase the chances that owners will get a better return on their investment. He is one of the biggest wildcards in the draft, and for the Marlins in 2017. Monitor him this spring to see how he looks, because this may be the season he puts back to back solid seasons together.