After an MVP-caliber 2017 season with the Miami Marlins, outfielder Marcell Ozuna struggled in his first year with the St. Louis Cardinals.
So what happened, and can he bounce back in 2019 before he hits free agency?
To put it simply, yes. Ozuna is too talented to be an average offensive player, and getting surgery this offseason to fix his injured shoulder should help.
However, when you dig into the numbers, Ozuna's 2018 numbers weren't all that different than 2017.
(2/4) Marcell Ozuna's STL debut was bad and weird.— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) January 14, 2019
21% K• 45% HH • 47% GB • .924 OPS
18% K• 45% HH • 47% GB • .758 OPS
How, even? Partially poor luck, but also his pull power disappeared.
He'll mash in 2019. Probably.
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While his walk rate was down a bit, Ozuna actually struck out less and his hard-hit and ground-ball rates were the same. While the shoulder surgery made headlines, Ozuna was better in the second half of the season before going under the knife.
Ozuna may have had some bad luck, but one thing he needs to fix next season is pull the ball more. According to Mike Petriello of MLB.com, when you look at Statcast, Ozuna lost an incredible 42 feet of distance when hitting with power to left field compared to the year before.
If Ozuna can get that shoulder healthy, maybe that'll help his pull side power and get him back to being the middle-of-the-order monster he once was.