Turn the calendar back to 2014, and the Miami Marlins' outfield was one of the most talked about stories in the National League, if not in all of baseball.
Christian Yelich hit .284 in his first full season and was hailed a future batting champion, Giancarlo Stanton finally led the league in home runs and was firmly in the MVP hunt, and Marcell Ozuna drove in 85 runs and was projected as a serious breakout candidate for 2015.
Fast-forward one season, and Miami's best asset was in tatters. Stanton suffered another season-ending injury, and Yelich endured a horrible first half of the season. However, it would be Ozuna who would have the worst season out of the three.
In the midst of a 1-for-36 slump, the then 24 year-old was sent down to Triple-A and was forced to play a huge 33 games before being recalled, even though he was hitting over .300 for a while before then. His return to the majors wasn't that successful, and he finished 2015 batting a measly .259.
This poor performance, along with the "jail" comments Ozuna made and the backlash over the demotion by the center fielder's agent, Scott Boras, prompted the Marlins to shop the young Dominican at the Winter Meetings.
Due to factors such as the small return the Marlins would have received for a struggling outfielder, and the lack of organizational depth to replace him in the lineup, a move involving Ozuna was never made and he manned his position as usual on Opening Day this season.
How fortunate Miami must be feeling now.
Marcell Ozuna is currently riding a 16-game hitting streak over which he has been hitting .415. His average on the season is now .308, and he has already hit seven home runs in 2016 after knocking out ten total in 123 games a year ago.
Ozuna appears to be one of the many Marlins benefiting from the tutelage of Barry Bonds and, most importantly, a smile is back on his face. In the middle of a Stanton slump, Ozuna picked up the slack last night with a key home run that led Miami to victory, and he is showing more and more that he is a player the team can lean on down the stretch this season.
Considering the awful 2015 season he experienced, not many people would have seen this career-best streak on the horizon for Marcell Ozuna. He is one of the leading forces in Miami's resurgent outfield, and it shows in the standings as Miami has been over .500 for the past few weeks after having not achieved such a feat since the 2014 season.
2014 was the closest Miami has come to the playoffs this decade, and it all started with the play of Miami's star outfielders. Now that Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton are all in-form again, the prospects for the team this season look bright. The Marlins almost gave up on Marcell Ozuna after last season. Now, he is showing them why he deserves a place in this lineup, and in a big way, too.