Marcell Ozuna had a career start to his 2016 season. He slashed .307/.360/.533 in the first half with 17 home runs and a wRC+ of 136 and was named a starter for the National League All-Star team. Ozuna was a force in a potent Marlins lineup, hitting between Christian Yelich in his breakout year and the always dangerous Giancarlo Stanton. Since the all-star break, however, Ozuna has struggled and has not played anywhere near all-star level. He is slashing .204/.252/.368 with only five home runs and dismal wRC+ of 60 in 40 games in the second half so far.
When a player’s stats are so different in two halves of a season, there are usually plenty of advanced stats that show why a player is struggling, but that may not be the case with Ozuna.
There has been a couple of statistical differences for Ozuna in the second half, with the first one being the way he is pitched to. Ozuna saw fastball’s 52.2 percent of the time before the break while he has only seen 47.8 percent fastballs since the break. Pitchers have somewhat figured out what Ozuna does best, which is hit the fastball, so they have thrown him far more off-speed pitches. The Marlins’ center fielder has seen four percent more curveballs and five percent more changeups since the break.
A lot of the reason for the increase in off-speed pitches definitely has to do with opposing pitchers figuring out Ozuna’s weaknesses, but it also could be a result of the injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Although he was struggling this season, Stanton is still one of the most feared hitters in the game and was providing solid protection behind Ozuna in the lineup, causing pitchers to have to give better pitches and more fastballs to Ozuna. After the injury to Stanton, the Marlins have tried multiple different guys in the fifth spot in the lineup behind Ozuna, but none have put the fear into opposing pitchers that Stanton did. Therefore, opposing pitchers don’t have give Ozuna as many good pitches too hit, and can confidently throw him more off-speed pitches.
The other statistic that has significantly changed from the first to second half of the season for Marcell Ozuna is his BABIP (Batting average on balls in play). His first-half BABIP was .349 while his second-half BABIP so far is only .208. A BABIP of .349 shows that a hitter is having a lot of success but also has some solid luck involved while a .208 BABIP shows struggles but also a lot of bad luck.
Other than the BABIP and the type of pitches he is seeing, none of the stats that Ozuna actually has better control of have changed in a way that would show a large drop in production. His strikeout percentage has actually gone way down from 20.7 percent before the all-star break to 14.1 percent after. Here are some of his analytical stat splits in 2016.
|Statistic||First Half||Second Half|
|Outside of the zone Swing%||33.3%||29.8%|
Marcell Ozuna may just be having more difficulty hitting off-speed pitches, or he may just be getting very unlucky so far in the second half of the season, but the Marlins will need that luck to turn around in September if they want to continue to field one of the better lineups in the National League.