The St. Louis Cardinals’ left fielder is heading into a contract year. Coming off a disappointing 2018, Will Marcell Ozuna be able to bounce back closer to what he was in 2017?
Marcell Ozuna was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals last offseason and was brought in to be the ‘big bat’ that fixes the lineup. Unfortunately that was nowhere near what happened. He started off extremely slow and didn’t pick up his production until later in the second half.
Ozuna finished the year with a .280 batting average, .325 OBP, 23 homers and 88 RBI’s. Overall those numbers don’t look horrible but given that he was brought in to stabilize the lineup and be it’s anchor, it’s a little disappointing. He never batted anywhere except for the cleanup spot in the lineup and when you compare those numbers to other cleanup hitters, it doesn’t paint Ozuna in a good light.
This offseason Ozuna seemed to have fixed his shoulder issue that has been the most likely cause of the backwards slide but at the Winter Warmup, Mo indicated that Ozuna may not actually be ready for Opening Day. This is frustrating as Ozuna not fixing his shoulder hurts not only his chances at getting a bigger contract in free agency, but hampers the projections for lineup of the Cardinals.
Now onto projections, below are the ZiPS projections for Ozuna in 2019.
This projection for Ozuna would put him about where he was last year. The biggest difference from 2018 to 2019’s projections is the jump in RBI’s. It’s a forgone conclusion at this point that Ozuna will continue to be the St. Louis Cardinals’ cleanup batter, and adding a guy like Paul Goldschmidt in front of him will no doubt increase his RBI totals.
If Ozuna puts up these numbers in 2019, I don’t think it’d be a stretch to still be disappointed at his production. Those numbers are much more typical for a supplemental player than a lineup anchor. Which brings us back to the main problem with the team as a whole: too many supplemental players. Goldschmidt does a lot to change that but still, Goldschmidt can’t do it all himself.
The Cardinals need Ozuna to outperform those projections if they want to truly contend in 2019. A healthier shoulder will definitely help, it’s just now all about hoping that was the only thing that led to such a dip in production from 2017 to 2018.