How Marcell Ozuna’s Arrest Is Going to Impact the Braves

By Anthony Haage in Sports
| June 3, 2021 10:24 am PDT

Marcell Ozuna was arrested and charged with aggravated assault by strangulation and misdemeanor battery on Saturday, May 29th against his wife, Genesis Guzman. On Monday, Ozuna was granted a $20,000 bond and was released from prison.

Police said in a press conference that they witnessed the dispute between Ozuna and Guzman, with Guzman having visible injuries at the time of their arrival.

Ozuna’s Season So Far

The Braves were already going to be without Ozuna for an extended period due to his finger injuries. Ozuna fractured two of his fingers on a baserunning incident and he was expected to miss around 6 weeks even before the arrest.

He will join Travis d’Arnaud, Touki Toussaint, Mike Soroka, Cristian Pache, Huascar Ynao, and Shane Greene on the injured list.

The 30-year-old outfielder has been an offensive staple for the Braves since joining the franchise in 2020, behind their superstars in Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman.

Ozuna has been among the top 30 hitters in wRC+ since 2020 at 135.

His slash line since 2020 is .281/.368/.510 with a WAR of 2.5. He has also added 25 home runs, 59 runs, and 82 RBI in 108 games. His 82 RBI over the past two years has him tied for 3rd most in the league during that span, with fellow teammate Freddie Freeman and Fernando Tatis Jr.

He was not having a great year before his injury and arrest, with a slash line of .213/.288/.356 and a wRC+ of 79, but Ozuna is such a good hitter that those numbers would increase throughout the year.

Ozuna is not known for his defense, but he has only committed 2 total errors last year and none so far this year.

He makes most of his starts in left for the Braves, but now the Braves will have to move to a combination of Abraham Almonte, Austin Riley, and Ender Inciarte.

Problems for the Braves

The 25-26 Braves currently sit in second in the NL East, 3.5 GB of the New York Mets, and Ozuna’s absence is coming at them at a terrible time. Now the Mets have a perfect opportunity to build some distance between themselves and the Braves.

There are tons of injuries and problems for the Braves to deal with right now.

They will have to lean even more on their top superstars in Ronald Acuña Jr., and Freddie Freeman, along with Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, and pitchers Ian Anderson, Max Fried, and Charlie Morton.

The Braves pitching staff currently has the 9th highest ERA in the majors at 4.38, and their inability to prevent runs will now be in the spotlight, as one of their best offensive players will be out.

Atlanta currently leads the league in home runs with a whopping 81 in 51 games played.

Ozuna has accounted for 7 of those home runs himself and if he had the opportunity to play a full season this year, it would not have been a surprise to see Ozuna get close or more than 30+ home runs.

Now that he won’t be playing for the foreseeable future, the Braves could fall out of first place in home runs. The Braves also had a 104 wRC+, which is tied for 9th highest in the league with the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds.

It would not be a surprise at all if the Braves offense struggles without Ozuna, as he has been arguable their best hitter who is not named Ronald Acuña Jr. or Freddie Freeman.

The Braves have yet to make an announcement since their initial one in regard to Ozuna’s arrest but they should be making a decision soon to place Ozuna on the MLB exemption list, which will take away his pay.

His current contract with the Braves is a 4-year, $65 million deal with a club option for 2025, which makes him the second highest paid player for the Braves behind Freddie Freeman.

Outlook for the NL East

The New York Mets now appear to be a heavy favorite to win the NL East and their odds have shifted to -210.

Jacob deGrom has been in the conversation for not only Cy Young, but also MVP. He is pitching lights out at a league leading ERA of 0.71, but he is also hitting .450 batting average (!!!) which is 3rd in the league of hitters of at least 10 at bats.

deGrom has famously been known for being unlucky when it comes to run support, so this year he is deciding to do it himself.

All jokes aside, Jacob deGrom may not finish among the league leaders in hitting, but he is no easy out just because he is a pitcher. He is the best pitcher in the world and appears to be a lock for Cy Young at -145 odds, barring any unfortunate events.

The Mets, behind deGrom, now have a golden opportunity to win the division, especially after all the absences the Braves have had and are going to continue to have.

Looking ahead, the Braves now should realistically look like a Wild Card team instead of a contender for first in their division. They still have amazing talent in reigning MVP Freddie Freeman, uber-talented Ronald Acuña Jr., and more.

They have also had good production from their young catcher, William Contreras, who is the brother of Cubs catcher, Willson Contreras.

William Contreras has really helped the Braves fill their void in at catcher since the injury to Travis d’Arnaud, and has hit to a slash line of .260/.341/.506 with wRC+ of 129.

The Braves have a tough stretch coming up as well, which is going to be hard to get through without Marcell Ozuna.

Their upcoming opponents consist of the Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, and then the first place New York Mets.

I would strongly advise against buying the Braves odds of +280 to win their division, without seeing the production of the offense without Ozuna, and improvement in performance from their pitching. However, I would not rule them out of snagging one of the Wild Card spots.

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