The still-to-be-determined start of the 2020 MLB season has added an interesting wrinkle to fantasy baseball draft prep. We at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best possible information heading into your drafts in these unprecedented times.
Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts, in many cases, because of the delayed start to the season. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?
Today's feature focuses on new Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
Draft or Pass at current ADP: 97 (OF27)
Marcell Ozuna is betting on himself in 2020.
After finishing 2019 with the highest walk rate of his career, along with hitting five more home runs than he did in 2018 in nearly 100 fewer plate appearances, the Atlanta Braves only offered the 29-year old outfielder a one-year-deal for around $18 million.
There were a few understandable concerns from his 2019 season, notably the career-low batting average and BABIP, but one could argue that the positives outweigh the negatives.
His ISO was the second-highest of his career, as was his HR total, RBI, and slugging percentage. Before he missed a month and a half with a finger injury, through his first 78 games, he hit .259 with 20 home runs, 62 RBI plus eight stolen bases.
He's also hitting the ball substantially harder. After averaging in the mid to high 30% during his five seasons in Miami, Ozuna upped his hard-hit percentage to 46.5% in the last two years in St. Louis. His fly ball percentage has climbed the last three years, his line drive percentage was the highest of his career a season ago, and his ground ball/fly ball ratio was at the lowest of his career. Ozuna, simply put, is worth the bet on himself because if healthy, we're looking at a 35 HR, 15 SB type guy, who's batting average will likely climb back up towards the .272 average we're accustomed to seeing.
During spring training, SI Fantasy analyst and high-stakes legend Shawn Childs listed Ozuna as a clear ADP value for 2020:
The finger injury led to a big step back in value over the final two months (.219 with nine HRs and 27 RBI over 192 at-bats). Ozuna also lost his way against left-handed pitching (.217 with six HRs and 20 RBI over 83 at-bats). His CTBA (.315) made a massive step backward for the second straight year, but he did make a push in his AVH (1.957).
Ozuna had the best walk rate (11.3) of his career with a league average walk rate (20.8). In 2017 and 2018, he had top-shelf RBI chances (467 and 434) with follow-through in 2018 (389) if he played a full year. The Braves have elite talent in front of him in the starting lineup with speed at the top of the order.
Look for Ozuna to have a rebound in his batting average with a run at career-high in home runs and RBI. His ADP (117) is very attractive, especially if he can chip in with some steals after swiping 12 bags in 2019.
With more protection in a stacked Braves lineup, I love the value Ozuna provides if he stays healthy. With Childs' overall number one pick Ronald Acuña leading off, followed by Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman, Ozuna should immediately be forced into seeing plenty of fastballs with runners on base, and those fantasy numbers should rise into Top-20 OF status quickly.
I'll be drafting Ozuna ahead of his ADP in 2020.
READ MORE: 2020 Atlanta Braves Fantasy Team Preview
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