Marcell Ozuna off to strong start for the Braves

Bill Shanks

Marcell Ozuna isn’t trying to be Josh Donaldson, but he certainly is putting on a show that may make Braves fans more easily forget about the popular third baseman from 2019.

Ozuna had another home run Saturday, his third of the season, a two-run shot that put the Braves on the board in the first inning. Ozuna is now hitting .367 with a 1.253 OPS and six runs batted in for the first nine games of the season.

Obviously, the Braves must give Freddie Freeman protection in the lineup, just like Donaldson provided last season. Freeman is off to a slow start so far, which is not a surprise since he missed significant time in summer camp with COVID-19.

But with Ronald Acuna getting going Saturday with two hits, including his first home run of the season, the Braves lineup looks really good at the first four positions. Ozzie Albies had a run-scoring single Saturday night, so hopefully that will get him going, as well.

Acuna is still batting just .184, while Albies is hitting just ten points higher at .194.

The Braves continue to get great production from shortstop Dansby Swanson, who had another single, another stolen base (3) and was hit by a pitch in the game Saturday. Swanson is now hitting .382 on the young season.

It was good to see both Ender Inciarte and Tyler Flowers get RBI hits in the game against the Mets.

But with Ozuna doing his damage in the cleanup spot, the Braves are going to be in great shape. Remember, this guy has averaged 28 home runs and 94 RBI in his last four seasons. That may not be what Donaldson was averaging, but Ozuna’s fast start shows he might just be good enough to fill Donaldson’s shoes for this shortened season.

And would the Braves consider signing Ozuna to an extension, since he will be a free agent again after this season? Well, since the designated hitter might be here to stay, Ozuna might be the perfect candidate. He seems to have fit in with the other players, so that helps. And, with questions about how free agents may be treated this offseason due to the shutdown, Ozuna’s best option might be to stay put in Atlanta.

Oh, by the way, Donaldson is hitting .182 on the young season, with a home run and two runs batted in for the first seven games of his season.

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