Oakland A's Rookie Matt Olson Deserves Your Attention
Philadelphia Phillies rookie first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins has been in the news a lot lately thanks to a record-setting, career-launching dinger surge. While Hoskins' homer rampage has been incredible, there is a rookie in the Junior Circuit who has been just as impressive. And not enough people are talking about him.
For FOURTH time this season, @mattolson21 has homered in 3 straight games.
And this one was demolished. https://t.co/GMAmtIvAh9 #Statcast pic.twitter.com/qzmUkVv45P
â€” MLB (@MLB) September 18, 2017
In just 53 games (192 plate appearances), Olson has slugged 21 homers and knocked in 40 runs, with a slash line of .266/.354/.651. That's good for a healthy weighted runs created (wRC+) of 162 and an fWAR of 1.7 that ranks him sixth on the team among position players.
He has an interesting batting stance but seems to have excellent plate coverage with it, allowing him to turn on inside fastballs and do stuff like this.
.@mattolson21 cracks a two-run shot! A's trailing 3-2 pic.twitter.com/vjNCobfSpK
â€” A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 10, 2017
Olson has 13 homers in his last 19 games, hitting .310/.388/.873 over that stretch. In his last 32 games, he has 17 bombs and is batting .300/.379/.773. And with his 20th home run of the season on Saturday, he joined some elite company.
. @mattolson21's 21 home runs are the most in any rookie season of 80 games or fewer in @MLB history. @Athletics @MLBNetwork
â€” Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) September 18, 2017
Hoskins needs just two more homers to join that club. As for Olson, he smacked 23 home runs in 79 games in Triple-A and now has a total of 44 on the season between the two levels. Hoskins is the fastest to 18 homers (in his first 37 games), and has a combined 47 between Triple-A and the Majors this season. Here's how they stack up thus far in 2017.
The items that stand out the most are the walk and strikeout percentages. Hoskins' percentages were good in the minors, but they've actually been better since coming to the big leagues. Olson's walk rate is down a bit and his strikeout rate is elevated from his minor league averages, but that's not unusual for a rookie.
Still, Hoskins has shown better plate disciplne in his brief Major League career thus far. He has swung and missed at a staggeringly-low 6.9% of pitches thrown to him, while Olsen has whiffed at a more human-like 12.9%. On pitches inside the strike zone (z-contact %), Hoskins has made contact 90.3% of the time, while Olsen has hit the ball 79.0% of the time.
While these numbers could level out as Hoskins and Olson each get more playing time, at the moment, Hoskins' early career peripherals show a player with plate maturity well beyond his years.
It's impossible to say which of these two players will be the better hitter over the course of their careers. What isn't impossible to say is that Matt Olson is now well on the Major League radar. And deservedly so.