Much has been made about the homecoming of Freddie Freeman in recent days. He fired his agent, and then a report surfaced that Casey Close never told Freeman about the team’s final offer, which is why Freeman fired him. It was an emotional weekend for him and Braves Country, but there’s another party affected by all of this — Atlanta’s new first baseman, Matt Olson.
It can’t be easy for the Georgia native to constantly see all of this attention and showering of Freeman, but he’s been a consummate professional during all of it. It seems the Braves replaced one franchise cornerstone in Freeman with another in Olson.
Olson came out of the gate hot, hitting .452 with a 1.280 OPS in his first 12 games with the Braves. But he followed it with an extended slump, hitting .172 with three homers and a .623 OPS in his next 32 games. Of course, Braves country handled it with a level-head (sarcasm), suggesting Alex Anthopoulos made the wrong decision. Well, Olson has silenced those critics as of late.
In Wednesday’s win over the Phillies, Olson added to his doubles total, which is two more than any player in franchise history prior to the All-Star break. Marcus Giles, one of my favorite Braves of all time, set the previous high at 29 in 2003 and was matched by Ozzie Albies and Nick Markakis before the break in 2018.
Matt Olson becomes the first @Braves player to ever hit 30+ doubles before the All-Star break. pic.twitter.com/kzhkdJDhWL
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) June 29, 2022
Olson’s 31 doubles put him on pace for 66, which is one shy of the major-league record of 67 by the Red Sox’s Earl Webb in 1931. Moreover, only six players in league history have totaled 60 or more doubles in a season.
Olson’s 43 extra-base hits are tied for the NL lead and put him on pace for 91, one off the franchise record of 92 extra-base hits set by the legendary Hank Aaron in 1959 when the club was still in Milwaukee.
Matt Olson already has a fan in me, and over the course of his eight-year contract, he’s going to make Braves Country fall in love with him.
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