Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson may be one of the more underrated players in the game today. Olson’s bat, along with his great fielding ability, has made him one of the best all-around first basemen in MLB. But in terms of fantasy, is Olson one of the best first baseman available? Yes, and here’s why.
Matt Olson in 2019
After a solid 2018 season (29 HR, 84 RBI, .788 OPS), Olson continued to improve and last season was proof of that. Across 547 plate appearances, Olson batted .267, hitting 36 home runs while driving in 91. Among players who qualify to play at first, Olson finished fourth in home runs, thirteenth in RBI and ninth in batting average. The one area where Olson didn’t do great in was runs score, as Olson’s 73 runs in 2019 were sixteenth best among qualified first baseman. Still, it was a strong season for the former first-round pick and one where he couldn’t even play the full year.
Matt Olson was able to put up strong numbers in 2019, despite spending the first month of the season on the IL. A right-hand injury kept Olson out for the first six weeks of 2019, causing him to miss the first 34 games. Nevertheless, Olson still has a great season. But what could have Olson’s year looked like had he not had the hand injury? If you look at his output from last season, it would have been even better.
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What Could Olson Have Done Had He Been Healthy?
Consider this: last season, Phillies 1B Rhys Hoskins led all first baseman in plate appearances with 705 PA. Olson only had 547 PA during 2019. If hypothetically you spread out Olson’s performance from 2019 over 705 PA, the 26-year old would have been on pace last year to hit 46 home runs. That total would have put him in second in the Majors last year among first baseman, with Mets 1B Pete Alonso being the only player that would have ranked ahead of him.
Of course, this situation probably wouldn’t have occurred, given that Olson most likely would not have hit 700 plate appearances. Rather, he most likely would have hit 640 PA, given the number of games Olson played in 2019 (Olson played in 127 of the 128 games he was eligible for in 2019). But even in that scenario, Olson would have been on pace for 42 dingers and 105 RBI. Both of those totals would have placed him in the top five among qualified first baseman.
A Look to 2020
At the start of the year, ESPN ranked Matt Olson as the seventh-best first baseman in fantasy. There’s a lot of quality first baseman available, so that ranking is understandable. However, Olson needs to be in the top five, as his power, along with his plate discipline, makes him one of the more dangerous hitters in the game today.
If Olson can stay healthy in 2020, there’s a good chance that he can put up some gaudy numbers once again. And with the likes of Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman batting in front of Olson, the 26-year old should be set up for success quite a bit once the season finally gets underway.
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