Braves 2023 FanGraphs Projections By Position: First Base

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With Spring Training a couple of months away, the Braves and many other teams are close to finalizing their rosters. There aren’t many attractive free agents left on the market, so it is a great time to look at FanGraphs‘ projections for the 2023 season. This continues my series as we move toward first base, which will be manned by Matt Olson in his second season in Atlanta. Below are the previous parts of the series:

First Base

Olson’s first season in Atlanta didn’t go how he or Braves Country quite expected. Coming off the highest WAR mark of his career in 2021, he followed up a 5.1 campaign with 3.1 WAR in 2022, due, in part, to a terrible September slump, in which Olson went 8-for-83 with 28 strikeouts.

However, he finished the season, including the playoffs, on a tear. Olson went 13-for-37 with six homers over the final ten games. In the NLDS against the Phillies, Olson was one of the few Braves players who remained productive at the plate, going 4-for-12  with two home runs. Over the entire season, he posted a 120 wRC+ and played slightly above-average defense.

Starting with the bad, his strikeout rate jumped 8% from 2021, his walk rate fell by 3%, and Olson posted a career-high 28% chase rate. Still, he recorded 44 doubles, 34 homers, and a team-leading 103 RBIs. FanGraphs projects Olson to slash .249/.340/.486, an uptick from his 2021 production. The site also projects him to accrue 3.6 WAR in 2023, ranking fifth in baseball behind the Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Blue Jays.

Honestly, nobody should be surprised if he surpasses all of those marks. Considering he’ll be more comfortable in Atlanta, Olson could feel less pressured to replace Freddie Freeman and produce more. The shift ban should also benefit him. His 47 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks 3rd in the league, which would have improved his average to .288 from .250.

Matt Olson didn’t quite live up to his expectations, but he was still damn good in the grand scheme of things. Moreover, Braves Country should expect him to regress closer to the mean in 2022. 

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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