Give me a chance here before you laugh me out of the room. But I don't think it's a stretch to for Marcell Ozuna to be an MVP. He's put the numbers up before and I think he could do it again. The conditions are set for Ozuna to repeat his outstanding 2017 year and compete for the NL MVP award.
I'll look at the case there is to make for the 28-year-old Ozuna, to become an MVP candidate and the conditions in place that weren't there in 2018. Also, I will look at the case against why Ozuna will not become an MVP candidate. Either way you can then decide which way you lean on the issue.
THE CASE FOR MARCELL OZUNA BECOMING AN MVP
To begin with he already had a MVP type year in 2017. Ozuna pounded 37HRs and 124RBIs with a slash line of .312/..376/.548 in 159 games. He also earned himself a Gold Glove award for his play in left field and a Silver Slugger award. Additionally,the right handed Ozuna, had a walk rate of at least nine percent and stuck out less than 22 percent of the time.
Although he didn't have as productive year in 2018, a problematic shoulder is likely the culprit. However, Ozuna still played in 148 games and slugged 23HRs and 88RBIs with a slash line of .280/.325/.433. Although his walk rate went down, so did his strikeouts to 17 percent.
Another reason to suspect Marcell Ozuna will be a MVP contender is Paul Goldschmidt. The addition of the power hitting Goldschmidt, can only help Ozuna by giving him extra protection in the lineup. Instead of just Jose Martinez and Matt Carpenter as protection, Goldschmidt will give opposing pitchers another decision to make. Would they rather pitch to the six-time All Star and four-time Silver Slugger Goldschmitt or to Ozuna?
Also, Marcell Ozuna had surgery in the off-season to strengthen his weak right shoulder. Cardinal President of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak recently visited with Ozuna and came away encouraged by the progress by the Cardinal left fielder. Mozeliak and the Cardinals expect Ozuna to be "100%" by spring training.
Finally, after 2019 Ozuna will be entering free agency for his first time. Therefore, it gives Ozuna plenty of motivation going into the upcoming season.
THE CASE AGAINST MARCELL OZUNA BECOMING AN MVP
So far, Ozuna's 2017, seems to be the exception instead of the rule for his career. In fact, before 2017, Ozuna never had a year where he hit more than 23 HRs and 85 RBIs. Not bad, but not really MVP worthy stats.
Ozuna was also protected in 2017 by a lineup that included Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelick, Justin Bour, and J.T. Realmuto. So the question would be if Ozuna could carry a team on his shoulders without that 2017 lineup.
Then it would lead to the next question that needs to be asked. Could Marcell Ozuna carry a team with a Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup? He really didn't shine last year without Goldschmidt, so should he be considered an MVP candidate even with him? An MVP should be the one player who could carry a team on his shoulders. It could be argued it sounds more like Paul Goldschmidt instead of Marcell Ozuna.
Finally, is Marcell Ozuna going to be healthy in 2019? Even though he had surgery in the off-season, his rehab isn't complete and there are questions about his recovery and training. Consequently, John Mozeliak had go down to the Dominican Republic to check on Ozuna, since he wasn't doing his rehab under the watchful eyes of the Cardinals medical team.
There are plenty of reasons to make a case for or against Marcell Ozuna being the 2019 NL MVP.
It will boil down to performance, offensively and probably defensively as well. If the his shoulder has healed, there is no reason to think Ozuna won't be better than 2018.
With the addition of Paul Goldschmidt, a full year of Paul DeJong, the return of Jose Martinez and hopefully a much better Dexter Fowler, the St. Louis Cardinals offense should be much improved.
If all goes as planned with the lineup, I personally believe Marcell Ozuna can be an MVP and carry a team on his broad shoulders. This is my opinion, let me know yours.
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