The Oakland Athletics found a gem at first base in Matt Olson. We take a look at how his 2019 season stacks up to recent seasons.
Matt Olson came into the 2019 MLB season as the Oakland Athletics’ starting first baseman for the second year in a row, and had a career year despite missing 35 games with an early-season hand injury.
Olson played in 127 games and set career highs in multiple categories – home runs (36), RBIs (92), batting average (.267) and WAR (5.1) – while being nominated for his second consecutive Gold Glove Award. His consistency at first base has given the A’s a steady hand at a position they had to platoon for years prior.
When Olson first came up with the A’s in 2016 he struggled at the plate. He had two hits in 21 at-bats and at times looked lost at the plate. His breakout came in 2017 when he absolutely tore the cover off of the ball.
That 2017 season he hit 24 home runs in only 189 at-bats, good for a home run every 7.9 at-bats. To put that into perspective, 2019 home run champ (and MLB rookie home run record-holder) Pete Alonso hit 53 this year in 597 at-bats, which is one per 11.3 at-bats. Not saying Olson would’ve hit the entire season at that rate, but it’s still very impressive.
2018 wouldn’t be as big of a power season for Olson, but he would show how valuable he is for this team. Following a season in which he hit 29 home runs and drove in 84 runs – also hitting his first career grand slam – he won his first Gold Glove. He was a steady presence at first, playing in all 162 games and becoming a star on both sides of the ball.
His 2019 season started out rough when he was injured in Tokyo. Olson took a foul tip off the hand and missed 34 games after having a surgery described as a right hamate excision.
When he returned he only missed one game the rest of the season, and the A’s went 82-43. Although many said the power wouldn’t return right away after the surgery, Olson slugged his way to a team-high 36 home runs with 91 RBIs.
While providing power in the A’s lineup, Olson also provided elite defense and is the likely frontrunner for the AL Gold Glove at first base. He matched his 2018 total with 14 defensive runs saved (in 53 fewer games) and had a .993 fielding percentage.
With Olson and Matt Chapman on the corners, the A’s have a bright future.