The Atlanta Braves have had one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory. With five players with 30 or more home runs in their everyday lineup, there is not a spot in which they are dangerous. They were the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot by the second week of September, en route to their six straight NL East crown.
It's their 18th NL East and overall, it's their 23rd division title, which is the most in MLB history.
Heading up this current run of Braves baseball is GM Alex Anthopoulos. He has built the Braves with a mix of traditional methods such as drafting and scouting talent, trades and free agent signings. One free agent signings that Atlanta struggled to get production from was Marcell Ozuna.
Ozuna has struggled not only on the field since signing his four-year, $65 million dollar contract, he has personal issues off the field, which include a domestic violence charge in 2021 and a DUI in August 2022.
But this season, Marcell has returned to his 2017 All-Star form while with the Miami Marlins in which he hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI. Primarily in the DH role, he has batted .268 with 36 home runs with 90 RBI
Braves: Alex Anthopoulos credits 2 people for Marcell Ozuna turnaround
Anthopoulos recently sat down with Bill Ladson of MLB.com and was asked about Ozuna's 2023 season and pointed out two people who have been the biggest reason behind Ozuna's comeback season. After discussing Marcell's strong spring training numbers, the first person he credited was Ozuna himself:
"He did the work and all of his teammates said, “You know what? Even through the rough start in April and all the booing and all of those things, he was the same person in the clubhouse.” His teammates said he is a great teammate, cheering everybody on. His worth ethic stayed at a high level. His attitude and his demeanor were at a high level. This guy is beloved in our clubhouse. He deserves credit for sticking with it. It’s easy to be a great teammate and have a great attitude when things are going well. It’s very telling when you can do it during the worst month of your career statistically."
The second person he gave credit to was Braves manager Brian Snitker, who Anthopoulus said he kept plugging into the lineup because Snitker believed in Ozuna.
"That was his call. Nobody would have criticized Brian if he sat him on the bench and took away playing time. To Brian’s credit and his credit alone, he made that call, and he was rewarded for sticking with him."
Ozuna certainly has a strong case to win the 2023 NL Comeback Player of the Year award based on his play. The Braves have clinched home-field advantage and will host the winner of the No. 4 vs No. 5 Wild Card when the NL Division Series kicks off on Oct. 7.