This is a strange one. Usually, it makes sense why certain players get overlooked. I wrote a blog over the weekend about Ha-Seong Kim and how he’s quietly put up a tremendous season. But the Padres have underachieved this year, and Kim is one of those players that grade out to be way better analytically than he does just according to the eye test. I understand how someone like that could get overlooked.
But Matt Olson doesn’t make any sense. The guy hits in the middle of the order for a historically good offense, and he’s a massive reason for that. Last night, he launched his thirty-sixth home run of the season. He’s probably going to walk to fifty home runs. Shit, with the way he’s been going, he might have an outside shot at 60, and yet no one is talking about it.
Sometimes, the team you play for is too good. I feel like on any other squad, Olson would be at the forefront of the MVP conversation, but with Ronald Acuña, Jr., having a transcendent season and Sean Murphy turning into, far and away, the best-hitting catcher in baseball, I understand why somebody like Olson might get overlooked. But even so, we’re talking about a multi-time All-Star who signed a big-time extension before the 2022 season.
Somebody pointed this out to me on Twitter last night, but Matt Olson will probably have a pretty strong Hall of Fame case one day. Now he’s not even remotely close yet, but he’s not even 30. He’s in the heart of his prime and about to reach a 30 bWAR as a first baseman. Olson has at least five more prime years left in them pending injury. And if he keeps up the pace that he’s been going at this season, Cooperstown could legitimately be in the cards one day. I know it’s a lot of speculation, but he has that talent.
The biggest reason, though, why I think somebody like Olson gets overlooked is that he’s not Freddie Freeman. The Braves won at all in 2021 with their franchise first baseman leading the charge. And Freeman is an amazing player. Olson might have a Hall of Fame case one day, but Freeman already has one. And Braves fans wanted to see him in Atlanta for the rest of his career. That was not the case. Freeman signed with LA after 2021, which allowed the Braves to trade for Matt Olson. It’s worked out for both teams.
It says a lot about the front office in Atlanta that they can lose the best hitter they’ve developed in years and somehow get better. The Braves won over 100 games last year and are well on their way to another hundred-plus-win season. ￼￼￼￼￼ I think there may have been a general belief that Olson was the second option behind Freeman and that the acquiring and subsequent extending of him was something of a downgrade. It’s been anything but. The dude rakes, and he belongs in the MVP conversation.