The Braves have a number of MVP candidates heading into the 2023 season. Ronald Acuna Jr. has the second-best odds in the National League at most betting outlets, and Austin Riley isn’t far behind. But it’s Matt Olson who David O’Brien of The Athletic thinks will be the club’s MVP, and I don’t disagree.
Team MVP: Matt Olson, 1B
In his first season with the Braves, Olson hit a career-high 44 doubles with 34 homers and 103 RBIs. But he also endured a career-worst late-season slump and finished with a .240 average and .802 OPS which were well below what he did in his last two full seasons with Oakland. However, Olson seems more relaxed this spring and has been locked in at the plate from Day 1. — David O’Brien
When the Braves traded for him, Olson was coming off a season in which he posted 39 home runs and 5.1 fWAR, resulting in an 8th-place finish in the AL MVP race. Despite posting 44 doubles, 34 home runs, and a team-leading 103 RBIs, a horrendous September slump — 8-for-83 and 28 strikeouts — was a major factor in him only accumulating 3.1 fWAR last season.
But he can eclipse those figures easily for a couple of reasons. Olson will be one season removed from being asked to replace a franchise legend in Freddie Freeman. Moreover, nobody on the Braves should benefit more from the shift ban. Olson’s 47 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks 3rd in the league. And if his Spring Training performances are any indication, the MVP will be coming to Atlanta.
Take it with a grain of salt, but Olson hit .426, slugging 1.000 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 47 at-bats. It’s just Spring Training, but nobody can deny how great he looks right now.
I won’t be surprised if Matt Olson reaches a .900 OPS, with 40 home runs, accumulates 5.0 fWAR in the 2023 season, and finishes well inside the top 10 of the NL MVP voting.
Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
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