by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Moving from Miami to St. Louis was supposed to provide a better environment for Marcell Ozuna. Coming off a breakout season (.312 with 37 HR and 124 RBI), Ozuna was sent packing as the Marlins tore things down yet again. There was always going to be a risk in his batting average (.355 BABIP), but that hasn’t been the only issue in the early going:
351 At Bats
.268 Batting Average (94 Hits)
10 Home Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.309 On Base Percentage
.385 Slugging Percentage
.310 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The BABIP is far more believable this year, though he’s also hitting the ball harder (39.1% to 46.6% Hard%). Couple that with a similar strikeout rate (19.4%) and the decline in power, it makes sense that is average is down… And that leads us to the bigger question, where have the home runs gone?
Despite moving to a more favorable locale, Ozuna has seen his HR/FB take a significant dip:
- 2017 – 23.4%
- 2018 – 10.9%
Even if you don’t want to believe ’17, he was at 14.1% in 2016 and 16.8% back in 2014. At 27-years old, and with the Hard% elevated, what has happened?
Further confusing the matter is the fact that Ozuna has seen more “Hard” pitches then he did a year ago:
You would think more fastballs would result in more power, not less. This season he owns a SLG of .436 against fourseam fastballs (5 HR), compared to a .642 mark in ’17. That’s the big issue, and with a .561 SLG in ’16 and a .551 SLG against the pitch since June 1 (.360 through May 31) it looks like he’s starting to turn the corner.
He hit 7 HR in June, but has fallen off a cliff again to start July (.170 with 0 HR). That creates the ideal buying opportunity, because everything is pointing towards an improvement (and a big one). Go out and try to acquire him on the cheap while you can, because there’s a good chance he helps to carry you in the second half.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball