The Athletic names Braves player that will benefit most from shift ban

Daniel young Braves

The Athletic recently brought together their team of beat writers and selected a player from each club that stands to benefit the most from the shift ban. David O’Brien’s answer for the Braves shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Atlanta Braves

Player: Matt Olson, 1B

The Braves first baseman faced shifts in 81 percent of his plate appearances last season, and lost dozens of potential hits on sharp grounders to the right side or liners that were caught by a shifted defender playing in shallow right field. In his very first plate appearance of spring training, Olson hit a grounder through the right side for a single. In the past, that was an easy out, again and again. Without shifted defenses, it’s easy to imagine Olson getting at least another 25 hits to that side. And that’s probably a conservative estimate. — David O’Brien

Our own Alex Lord actually took a much deeper dive into this topic, going over several Braves players that stand to be affected from the shift ban — both positively and negatively. Here’s what he said about Matt Olson: 

Moving on to offense, Matt Olson’s 47 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks 3rd in the league, which would have improved his average to .288 from .250 — a dramatic difference. As a team, the Braves’ 188 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks fifth in the league. If those hits were given back, the team’s batting average would’ve been .267.

Matt Olson didn’t have a bad first year in a Braves uniform by any means, but he was unfairly tasked with filling the shoes of one of the best players in franchise history. Expectations were sky-high, and he fell short of those.
That has the potential to change in a big way this season. Olson is a legitimate 40 home run threat, and with the shift ban, it’s reasonable to expect his batting average to be at least 25 points higher than what we saw a season ago. Factor in his plate discipline along with his defense, and there’s a formula for him to make a run at the NL MVP.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire
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