Braves Statcast Report: Sabermetrics love Matt Olson so far

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Matt Olson is off to a scorching start this season, filling the shoes of Freddie Freeman better than just about anyone could have imagined. Through 11 games, he’s slashing .421/.551/.684 with a couple of home runs. Olson is leading the league in on-base percentage, and while that slash line is surely not sustainable, the advanced metrics provided by Baseball Savant suggest he’s on track to have an MVP caliber season. 

Expected Stats

Despite his torrid start, Statcast suggests Olson isn’t benefitting from some crazy luck. His expected batting average is .410, and his expected slugging percentage is .663. Yes, the eleven game sample size is minuscule, but the stats tell us there is nothing flukey about the start of Olson’s Braves career. 

Plate Discipline

Throughout his career, Olson has been regarded as a power bat with mediocre plate discipline, but last season he turned that narrative on its head, recording a career-high .371 OBP. Like most, I was hesitant to think that was a repeatable result. After all, decreasing a strikeout rate by 15% is a drastic change to one’s approach at the plate. However, early season metrics reveal that Olson’s improved plate discipline is likely permanent. 

His walk rate for this season is at 22%, and while his strikeout rate is up slightly from last year, it’s not a significant increase. Olson passes the eye test as well. He’s been a tough out every at-bat, constantly taking pitchers deep into the count. Plate discipline is an ageless tool, one that will stick over an eight-year contract. This trade is already looking like a huge win for the Braves. 

Power

While Olson became a more patient hitter, it wasn’t at the expense of his power. He has a staggering resume of power stats so far in 2022. A 13.3% barrel percentage and 95.8 MPH average exit velocity are just the start. The left-handed hitter has been exterminating baseballs, and his launch angle shows an interesting incongruity. Olson’s 11.5 degree average launch angle is well below his career average of 17.8. Once this gets closer to that average, more homers will follow. 

Photo: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

 

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