clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Marcell Ozuna has got to go

He’s gotten off to another slow start. He looks like he did in 2022, which is exactly how he looked to start 2021. This can’t keep going on if the Braves want to be as good as they can be.

Cincinatti Reds v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves are about to embark on a quick road trip that'll take them to Kansas City and San Diego, and they'll be hitting the road while currently being on pace to win 112 games this year. Yes, it's very early, but things have been going well and it still wouldn't be a huge shock to see this team end up with triple digits in the win column by the time October rolls around.

Even with all of the problems this Braves team has had so far, they’re still figuring out ways to win here in the early stages of the season. Here’s what’s happened so far in what’s already been an eventful season for the Braves:

  • Max Fried goes on the IL after a grand total of 50 pitches
  • Collin McHugh goes on the IL with shoulder inflammation
  • Raisel Iglesias starts the season on the IL
  • Michael Harris II goes on the IL with a back strain
  • Travis d’Arnaud goes on the IL with a concussion
  • The only Braves starter to get past the sixth inning so far has been Bryce Elder
  • Orlando Arcia’s magical start is in doubt after getting hit by a pitch
  • They’ve given over 40 plate appearances to a player who has dipped into negative fWAR

Despite taking injury hits to their rotation, their bullpen, their outfield and their catcher’s spot, the Braves are still going out there and taking care of business. They had a great road trip against Washington and St. Louis and then salvaged their opening homestand with a sweep against a very feisty Cincinnati team. It’s a great sign that they’re winning right now and I can’t wait to see what they can do once they’re back at full strength. Still, the one thing that’s been most concerning (and, to be quite frank with you, tiring) has been the final bullet point from the above list.

Marcell Ozuna’s got to go. You could easily argue that this is something that needed to happen after he got into trouble off the field for domestic violence and then DUI and just call it right there. However, the Braves have quite clearly decided that they’re going to see this contract out to the bitter end, so he remains on the team. With that being said, just because he’s on the team doesn’t mean that he should be playing as often as he has been.

His at-bats are getting to the point where he’s becoming unplayable. He’d already reached that point as an outfielder and he’s just about hit that point as a designated hitter. This isn’t one of those things where we’re reacting to a small sample size, either — his at-bats so far have looked ominously similar to the terrible season he had last season, and he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his bat before his injury/suspension in 2021, either. That’s 756 plate appearances so far and he’s produced nearly -1.5 fWAR over that span. His continued presence in this lineup actively makes the Braves a worse baseball team and that’s been the case since the start of the 2021 season.

That’s why it was honestly a little shocking to see this coming from Brian Snitker after last night’s win over the Reds:

Marcell Ozuna should not keep playing. One of the usual questions that comes after making this statement is “Well, who else would you play at DH right now?” and the answer to that question is pretty simple in an ideal situation: Anybody else. Eddie Rosario has also largely struggled since joining the Braves (at least in the regular season), but he would be better. Eli White would be better. Kevin Pillar and Sam Hilliard would be getting into “okay that’s a stretch” territory but the fact that we’re even discussing it makes this a pretty dire situation. Assuming we see him up with the big leaguers again at some point, Vaughn Grissom would be better. Once Michael Harris II returns from injury, the Braves are going to have options here — they may not be appealing options but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers.

The main point is that Marcell Ozuna can’t be a regular part of this lineup going forward. The good news is that the Braves are already proving to be good enough to withstand a lot of adversity — that’ll happen when your star players are already producing at star levels and your bullpen has already proven to be formidable enough to lift up a rotation that’s stumbled out of the gates due to injury and production issues. It also helps to have Orlando Arcia getting off to a great start at the plate, to boot. Atlanta’s going to be fine even if they continue to basically waste the DH spot on giving Marcell Ozuna something close to regular plate appearances going forward.

Still, the Braves would likely improve by just moving Marcell Ozuna to the back of the bench and leaving him there only in case of a serious emergency. Atlanta’s got over 30 million reasons to hope and wish that Ozuna can find a way to play his way out of the rut that he’s been in since 2021 but it would be highly unlikely to see a player on the other side of 30-years-old to suddenly revert to the form he had a few years ago. As far as a lot of us fans are concerned, enough is enough and I’ll let a dearly departed football fan from London finish this off for me:

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Battery Power Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power