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Fantasy 411 podcast: How will Ozuna fare in STL?

December 22, 2017

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.Matthew Leach: Probably the biggest transaction in recent weeks, at

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.
Matthew Leach: Probably the biggest transaction in recent weeks, at least from a fantasy perspective, is Marcell Ozuna going to the Cardinals. I am on record repeatedly as being a huge Ozuna fan. I love his skillset, I love watching him play. I think St. Louis will provide a little boost, but not a huge one. He's coming off a career year. My read on Ozuna is, I kind of pencil him in overall for basically similar numbers to this past year, which kind of for me accounts for a little boost getting out of the ballpark in Miami -- but not that much better a lineup, if at all -- and a little docking just for, he had a great year and it's hard to repeat. Am I overly optimistic on Ozuna to think that he can basically come close to his '17 numbers in '18?
Fred Zinkie: No, I don't think you are. But I will say that I think you and I are in the minority believing that Ozuna can come close to those 2017 numbers. I'm with you. I think there will be some regression -- I just think 124 RBIs is probably hard to repeat, I think it's still a triple-digit total though.
What I like about Ozuna is he hits the ball hard. People will look at a .355 BABIP last season and say that's not sustainable. Well, it is largely sustainable if you consistently hit the ball hard. And that's what he does. I don't know if he'll hit .312 next year, but I think he can hit .295, maybe even .300. And I agree with you on the lineups. I think the Cardinals' lineup overall will be better than maybe the overall Marlins lineup was last season, but the Marlins lineup last season was really top-heavy, and that was nice for Ozuna, just being around [Christian] Yelich, around [Giancarlo] Stanton. I mean, it matters what the 7 and 8 hitters are doing in your lineup, but if you're hitting third or fourth in the lineup, it matters more what the hitters are doing right around you.
So I think that's all probably a wash. I agree with you; I think the ballparks are basically a wash. I think it really comes down to Ozuna, and how much he can continue to regularly hit the ball hard. And I think he can do that.
This was a breakout season -- but let's not forget that 2016 was shaping up as a breakout season, and then he was dealing with nagging injuries in the second half and tailed off. He could have very well done something maybe not quite this great but similar in 2016, had he not had those injuries.
Leach: Yeah, I just think he's a really special talent. Look, there are two ways to look at it. We don't get too much into "soft" factors here -- I know my belief, and I suspect your belief as well, is that you can kind of craft any narrative you want to sort of fit your prediction, or even retroactively. So if you want to say, well, the spotlight's on him, and he's got to produce on a contending team for the first time, I'm not gonna tell you you're wrong. But I think there's an alternate view.
I think when you look at it, this was a guy that things weren't always easy for him in Miami. This was a guy that there was long talk they were gonna trade him. There were whispers that they just kind of didn't like him. It was not a sure thing that he was even gonna have his breakout in Miami. He could have been gone a couple of years ago. And from all I've heard, he's a guy who just loves to play ball.
I take all those things together, and you now send him to a place that wants him, that's gonna be really excited to have him, where there is going to be very much something to play for every day… and look, if you wanted to look at all that and say, well, again, spotlight, does he clench the bat a little tight and maybe press and have a hard time, I can't tell you you're wrong because we don't know. But I look at it the other way. I think this guy is gonna be energized to be in a place that really wants him, to be in a place where the expectation every day is that you're playing a game that matters in a pennant race. I think that's gonna suit him well. And I would be more inclined to give him a boost for the change than dock him. But again, if somebody wanted to see it the other way, we don't know, I can't tell you you're wrong.
Zinkie: Yeah, and I'll say, I think Ozuna's in a nice spot with the Cardinals, where he might be their best player, but he's not their most famous player, and he's not going to be anytime soon. Yadier Molina is a huge personality on that team. Matt Carpenter is an established star. William Fowler's in the second year of a big contract. They still have Adam Wainwright there. Carlos Martinez is a borderline ace-type pitcher. There's a lot of players still there who will attract a lot of fan attention and media attention. So Ozuna's going to obviously be under the microscope to play really well, but it's not like he's going to a team of no-names and now it's all on him to pull them up. This is a team that already has a lot of established veterans.