Matt Olson moving up home run leaderboard
By David Hill
Expectations were high for Matt Olson heading into the 2021 season. The Oakland A’s first baseman was projected to tie Mike Trout for the American League lead in home runs while becoming a dark horse candidate for the MVP award. Olson certainly had his work cut out for him in order to be the player the baseball world had hoped for.
This was especially the case given his disappointing 2020 campaign. While the A’s offense as a whole struggled, Olson was particularly disappointing. He did hit 14 homers in his 245 plate appearances, but only produced a .195/.310/.424 batting line. The A’s needed far more this season.
Matt Olson living up to high preseason expectations
Thus far, Olson has put those struggles behind him. He had looked the part of that potential MVP candidate, posting a .288/.376/.588 batting line in his 394 plate appearances, hitting 26 homers and 23 doubles. He made his long overdue All Star Game debut and was a part of the Home Run Derby. Olson’s production is being recognized this season.
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Olson’s power is also apparent on the leaderboard. With his homer on Friday night, he moved into a tie for third in the AL with Rafael Devers, trailing only MVP frontrunners Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He is tied for fourth in the majors, as Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only National League player with more homers than Olson.
The Home Run Derby certainly did not do anything to his swing. Olson has continued his excellent pace since the All Star Break, with nine hits, including three doubles and three homers, in his 30 plate appearances. He has continued to be exactly what the A’s need in a lineup that has struggled to produce at times this season.
As the A’s look to solidify their hold on a playoff berth, and catch the Astros for the AL West crown, Olson will be a key part of that quest. His production will be all the more important as the A’s are unlikely to make a major splash before the deadline, instead tinkering around the edges and hoping that they have enough. Olson’s hot bat may be enough to drag the A’s to the Promised Land.
Matt Olson is climbing up the home run leaderboard. The Oakland A’s first baseman is living up to his preseason expectations.