Dominican Ozuna leaves the darkness behind and now sounds like MVP

ATLANTA.- He Dominican Marcell Ozuna downplays the chorus of “MVP! MVP! MVP!”

The slugger of the Atlanta Braves He knows, better than anyone, that these moments can be ephemeral.

“You have to be on the same level,†Ozuna warned. “Not feeling comfortable.†.

Just a year ago his career was hanging by a thread. The same fans who now cheer him booed him every time he stepped up to the plate. It seemed like it would be a matter of time before the Braves let him go.

But the team decided to keep him and Ozuna, once again, is one of the most feared hitters. On Wednesday he hit two home runs in Atlanta's 5-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox and surpassed Shohei Ohtani as the major league leader by totaling 12 home runs.

The designated hitter known as “Big Bear” woke up Thursday as the Major League leader with 38 RBIs – five more than his rivals – and is second, behind Ohtani, in slugging percentage. (.646) and OPS (1.042).

“I have great respect for that man,†said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “The baseball gods have a way of rewarding people like him.†.

To appreciate how far the 33-year-old has come, you have to look at where he was in the first month of the 2023 campaign.

He had a batting average of just .085 and two RBIs. Analysts implored the Braves to terminate the four-year, $65 million contract he signed before the 2021 season. Ozuna also had problems outside the stadium — with arrests for domestic violence and driving while intoxicated within a period of 15 months. This was proof enough to let him go.

But Snitker was impressed by Ozuna's attitude toward his teammates, even when things weren't going well.

He continued to be popular and loved in the clubhouse, supporting those around him and making everyone smile. Additionally, he maintained his work ethic.

Bravos turned the page:

Ozuna apologized for his incidents, served a 20-game suspension and completed a series of programs after domestic violence charges were dropped.

On the diamond, he never lost faith in his abilities —even at his worst.

The Braves were rewarded for having faith in Ozuna, rebounding almost a year ago. He finished last season with 40 home runs and 100 RBIs and was vital for the Braves who led the Major Leagues with 307 home runs.

Ozuna could surpass his mark from last year and seems to be the player who could give Ohtani a fight for the National League MVP.