MLB: The most valuable left fielders of 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans and Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) await the ball during a MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, on September 15, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans and Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) await the ball during a MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, on September 15, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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9. Marcel Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals, $6.711 million value; $12.25 million salary

Ozuna’s reputation is developing along the classic MLB left fielder’s lines. He doesn’t run very well, his arm stinks and everybody’s becoming suspicious of his glove. If he doesn’t hit, people begin to talk.

They talked enough in St. Louis that when Ozuna hit free agency at season’s end, the Cardinals expressed substantial interest in moving on, notwithstanding two salient facts: 1. The Cardinals won the NL  Central with Ozuna in left field, and 2. In two seasons with the Cards, he averaged 26 home runs, 88 RBIs and a 107 OPS+.

In 2019, however, Ozuna lost 40 points on his batting average, an attention-getter at left field. Ironically, he became much more of a power hitter – usually a good trait at the position – producing 11 more extra base hits and seeing his slugging average climb by 40 points.  No matter: in combination with his reputation for defensive spottiness, that batting average decline sent him onto the open market, where he remains as this is written.

Ozuna’s 2.2 WAR equated to $5.362 million in offensive value. His 1.5 chance range ranked toward the bottom of his group, amounting to just $384,000 in defensive worth. At least Ozuna showed up: at 1,112 innings he ranked sixth overall, justifying $595,000 for playing time.