Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : Ozuna talk

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monday Quickie : Ozuna talk

Ozuna was signed by the Braves last week. Nats fans remember Ozuna from the NLCS, where like every Cardinal, he was embarrassingly bad at the plate*, and like some Cardinals, embarrassingly bad in the field. But that's not Ozuna. The question is who IS Ozuna.

For most the question is settled. He's an above average bat and a decent fielder. Solid power, little patience, enough skill to be a decent baserunner when he puts his mind to it. This has been a fair genearal description of Ozuna over the past few years. But what to make of 2017? Ozuna hit .312 that year and got some MVP votes. Was that just a fluke?

I think it kind of was but he might be able to repeat it.  If you look at Ozuna's fancy stats he was remarkably consistent as a Marlin in the type of hits he got (LD/FB/GB), where he hit them (PULL/CF/OPPO) and how hard he hit them. What changed in 2017 was some BABIP luck and a bunch of homers going over the fence. The former took a dip in St. Louis, first back to normal and then what appears to be oddly low. But Ozuna became a straight pull hitter in St. Louis, so even though he was hitting the ball a lot harder, he could have been shifted out of several hits. There is thought that this change was because of his shoulder injury though, and a rehabbed and healthy Ozuna could go back to his old ways.

This sets up a scenario where Ozuna goes back to his all fields hitting and the ball remains juiced and the Braves have indeed found a fringy MVP candidate. I suppose it's possible. But it's going to take both some work and some luck for this to happen.

What's more likely is a little less pulling and little better BABIP luck and an average closer to the .270 range.  If the ball remains juiced he's still the type of player that can take advantage of that and 30+ homers remains a possibility for a full season. If not, 20+.  Not a bad player, but only a touch better than Markakis, who'd you'd expect to hit in the .280s but with less power, who'd he'd be replacing.

There's talent there for it to all come together and him to actually replace Donaldson in a meaningful way. There's history there to suggest it can happen too. That would be bad as the Braves have an edge on the Nats and a surprise MVP would likely seal the division for them. But there is more history and a more recent look at performance that both suggest that's a reach. Ozuna should help the Braves but it shouldn't be enough to put them out of reach.

Zimm is back! Healthy Zimm should hit. Is he healthy? Probably not! But it's good to have him back for a curtain call season.

*Except for you Jose Martinez!


Anonymous said...

But the important question is: will this derail Markakis's drive for 3000??!!?!

G Cracka X said...

Zim might be healthy, but the Nats have 3 other guys who can play 1st (Thames, Kendrick, and Cabrera), so he can get as many off-days as he needs. Hopefully this will help him reduce the chance of injury, as there isn't a normal scenario where they ever need to push him. And if he doesn't hit, then he likely won't hit his incentive marks, so then he would only cost the team $2 mil. I think the contract works out nicely for both parties.

Jimmy said...

Zim, is going to be Hairston on this team. Maybe he plays first against a favorable lefty matchup occasionally. Potentially think we'll see Kendrick less at first and more at 2nd and third this year than he did last year to keep his bat in the lineup. Kind of cheeses me counting on Kieboom hitting and Starlin Castro this much. But it was never going to be easy replacing Rendon.

Jimmy said...

Thames sucks vs lefties so we'll see late inning replacement PH for him with either Zim or Kendricks. Also the three batter rule will help limit his exposure to lefties as well.

Bryan said...

"That would be bad as the Braves have an edge on the Nats and a surprise MVP would likely seal the division for them."

Last year the Phils had basically Bryce and no one else hit at or above their career #s. Injuries, poor seasons, etc.

Assuming - and at this stage we have to - that the Phils stay healthy and hit at their career #s, its the Phils I'm worried about.

Bryan said...

Oh, and I am a strong supporter that players should quit whenever they determine their skills require it. Very little damage to their "memory" is done in those last years of poor/bad play.

Having said that, what more could Zimm ask for? WS champ in a year in which he contributed in no small way.

Matt said...

I'm pretty worried about the Ozuna signing even if e's just as expected. The Braves and Nats were close, I didn't figure Markakis to be very good this year, so just adding some above-average competence gets them a couple of wins. And if he explodes, then as Harper says, that would be bad.

On the plus side, this would be a great time for everyone to rewatch Ozuna's wall-climbing fielding bloopers. Both of them. Not as hilarious as the homer off Canseco's head, but getting there...

Mark said...

Signing a player to essentially replace another player that he is slightly better than, does not fill the gaping hole left by a 3rd player who is now gone and being replaced by 2 players who struggled last year. If Ozuna turns into 2017 Ozuna, and one of the third base guys steps makes significant improvement they will be very good, but still not better than last year offensively. If Ozuna regresses and the 3rd base guys are not any better than last year, they will be significantly worse. Somewhere in the middle is most likely what happens and keep in mind they had more wins than their Pythagoras wins last year already.

billyhacker said...

Mr harper robot suddenly has feels and is all warm and scromfy for Zimms!?
Off-season seems to be rusting robot brains.

Harper said...

Mark - I do expect the 3rd base to match Markakis' offense so MVP Ozuna would be a replacement, but yeah if they don't then even great Ozuna wouldn't get them back to where they were.

billyhacker - I'm 100% in on guys playing until they are kicked out. You only get one chance. "I've had enough professional baseball in my life. Time to never do it again by choice" makes no sense to me. Make like Rickey or Julio Franco and play until your body literally can't do it anymore.

Anonymous said...

But we got Emilio Bonifacio! Take that Braves!

blovy8 said...

I will be quite happy to see everyone bitch and moan about Zim and then have him hit a couple of homers and make good plays at 1st again the 2020 postseason. Also, Howie is not a good 1B, the postseason was a bit of a Bucknerish outlier, but despite his age I think Statcast has it right in that he is better off getting most of his games at 2b.

SM said...

Dusty "Hepcat" Baker new Astros manager.

Boys in the clubhouse eagerly awaiting more tales of drug-fueled adventures with (pick one): Miles Davis; Hunter Thompson; Jimi Hendrix; or Yanni.

Mr. T said...


Anonymous said...

Nats trade for Ryne Harper . . . forget the implications for the bullpen/roster, where do we go to start a petition for the team to switch his uniform number from 19 --> 34?!?

(Not everybody desecrated their jerseys after Bryce left, after all, and he'd be flattered to see he had so many fans here on Opening Day).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Harper...what ever happened to his brother who seemed to be on a fasttrack to the bullpen??

Chaos56 said...

Bryan played independent ball last year and has a gradually increasing ERA.

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