There were many question marks about Marcell Ozuna coming into this year after being one of the best hitters on the St. Louis Cardinals last season, but he hasn’t disappointed through his 16 games so far.
In five years with the Miami Marlins, Marcell Ozuna was a career .278 hitter with a .329 on-base percentage, compiling 683 hits and 96 home runs. In 2017, Ozuna ranked in the top-15 players in the National League in MVP voting.
The Cardinals front office took notice of an upcoming Marlins fire-sale, and swept in, signing the then-26-year-old Ozuna to a contract worth around $21 million, keeping him as a Cardinal until 2020 at the earliest.
Last year, his first since his signing with St. Louis, Ozuna was one of the (statistically) better Cardinals players last season, batting .280 while posting a .325 on-base percentage and slugging a team-second 23 home runs, while leading the team with 88 RBIs.
His success has continued into the new season, and Ozuna has been one of the few bright spots of a Cardinals lineup that has struggled to score runs in many games so far this year. Now on a five home-run streak over four consecutive games, Ozuna has had the hottest bat on the St. Louis Cardinals of late.
Currently sitting at .293 on the season with seven home runs and 15 RBIs, Ozuna is on pace for a career year in his contract season with the Cardinals. St. Louis has certainly taken notice, and even though there’s a lot of season left, the organization will have some tough questions to answer in the offseason if Ozuna can keep up his blistering pace.
Ozuna sits at first in the home runs and RBIs categories for the Cardinals, and second in several other categories including hits and batting averages, despite only ranking in at fifth in total at-bats.
In the last seven days, including games against division rivals the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, Ozuna has five home runs, 11 hits, 10 RBIs and has scored seven runs in just 20 at-bats. He’s batted with a .450 average in the past week, and his streak of hitting continued in Wednesday’s game against the Brewers, when he chipped in another home run in the Cardinals 6-3 win over the Brewers.
For a Cardinals team that has struggled of late in terms of run contribution, a problem which could prove fatal in a division as competitive as the National League Central, Ozuna’s contributions have been invaluable.
If Ozuna can keep up his numbers at the plate (or even a semblance of them), he could earn himself some big money at the end of the season, especially if this Cardinals team can live up to their pre-season hype.