Oakland A’s need Matt Olson to bounce back in 2021
By David Hill
As the Oakland A’s look to return to the postseason in 2021, they will need several players in the lineup to return to form. Not only do the A’s find themselves having to replace a third of their lineup, but several key pieces of their offense slumped in 2020.
While Matt Chapman and his injured hip have received most of the attention, he is not the only player that the A’s need to step up in the coming year. His counterpart across the diamond, Matt Olson, also needs to return to the form that Oakland has been accustomed to.
A’s hoping for Matt Olson to bounce back
The 2020 season was certainly not kind to Olson. He posted a career worst .195/.310/.424 batting line, hitting 14 homers and four doubles. His defense also suffered as the former Gold Glove winner actually cost the A’s two runs at first.
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In general, Olson’s Statcast numbers paint a rosy picture when he made contact. He ranked in the 91st percentile in exit velocity, 84th percentile in barrel rate, and 82nd percentile in hard hit percentage. His expected batting line of .224/.326/.455 may not be much better, but it is an improvement over his production in 2020.
It is easy to see why Olson struggled as well. He ranked in the eighth percentile in whiff rate and in the ninth percentile in strikeout percentage. On the positive side, Olson was in the 86th percentile in walk rate, but those walks did not exactly counter his overall struggles with the bat last season.
Those rates also offer a departure from his 2019 performance. Olson ranked in the 96th percentile in exit velocity, 94th percentile in barrel rate, and 98th percentile in hard hit percentage. While those rates were respectable enough in 2020, they did mark a decrease from his showing the previous year.
It is entirely possible that Olson’s struggles were due to the abbreviated season. Numerous stars struggled last year, as did virtually the entire A’s offense. But as one of the franchise cornerstones, and someone that the team is building their roster around, Olson’s ability to bounce back may have a greater impact on their fortunes than anyone else.
The Oakland A’s will need Matt Olson to perform to expectations in 2021. Their success in the coming year may depend on it.