by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
If someone in your league was expecting Oakland’s Matt Olson to maintain last year’s home run pace, they likely are looking at a .234 average with 19 HR more than halfway through the season and are disappointed. When we dive into the numbers, however, it’s obvious that there is reason for optimism and to go out and buy as quickly as possible:
At the end of the day did anyone really expect him to replicate a 41.4% HR/FB? He’s carrying a 17.4% mark overall, and while he’s yet to have a surge in July (8.3%), he had been seeing the number rise with each month:
- April – 13.0%
- May – 17.1%
- June – 23.1%
That June mark yielded 9 HR, and while he had to take a bit too much of a fly ball approach (50.0%) it shows the type of power potential he has.
While Olson owns a 25.4% strikeout rate, that number is dragged down by an awful start (34.2%). Since then he hasn’t been above 22.0% in any month and he’s done a solid job of making contact against all types of pitches (Whiff%):
- Hard – 12.88%
- Breaking – 12.92%
- Offspeed – 11.89%
Couple that with a 24.2% O-Swing% and there’s every reason to believe that he can keep the number in check (while continuing to draw walks).
With a solid strikeout rate there’s already reason to believe in an improvement. Now couple that with the fact that he’s carrying among the best Hard% in the league (51.8%, which is just ahead of Eugenio Suarez for the league lead) and it’s easy to envision an improvement in his .272 BABIP.
Now consider that he shouldn’t be as prone to the shift as some other hitters, as he’s distributing the ball to all fields consistently:
- Pull% – 38.1%
- Cent% – 34.4%
- Oppo% – 27.5%
It all comes together for a significantly better outlook.
Maybe Olson sees his Hard% dip, but even so everything points to an improvement in his average to go along with plenty of power. Hitting in an underrated Oakland lineup, that should lead to more RBI (46) and the potential to score some runs (49). He may lack speed and first base isn’t generally a position we target, but it’s easy to envision Olson having a big second half. Maybe he’s not the best buy for the second half, but he’s among them.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: