When the Atlanta Braves decided not to bring back first baseman Freddie Freeman and, instead, invested prospects to bring in Matt Olson from Oakland as his replacement, a portion of the fan base was very mad.
However, the Braves were making a baseball decision: not to offer their 32-year-old star a six-year deal, instead going with the recently-turned-28 offensive and defensive stud and sign him to a deal with a lower average annual value than Freeman.
Any criticism about the Braves trading for Olson should be directed at the way they treated Freeman, a fan favorite and a franchise icon, but not the baseball decision itself.
Because prioritizing Olson made sense: he is younger, more powerful, and a better defender.
He is proving, right out of the gate, that he belongs as a feared slugger and run-producer in the Braves’ lineup.
“2nd in OBP, 6th in OPS, 6th in wOBA, 6th in wRC+, 2nd in xwOBA: Matt Olson is off to one of the fastest starts in baseball,” Bally Sports: Braves tweeted.
▪️2nd in OBP
▪️6th in OPS
▪️6th in wOBA
▪️6th in wRC+
▪️2nd in xwOBA
Matt Olson is off to one of the fastest starts in baseball. pic.twitter.com/Z4r2pizlTA
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) April 18, 2022
Explaining Olson’s Dominance With Advanced Metrics
The wOBA stat assigns a value to the way the hitter reached base rather than the sole fact of reaching.
For example, a home run is, and should be, more valuable than a single.
The xwOBA means expected wOBA, and uses Statcast’s expected stats while evaluating hit probability using launch angle and exit velocity data.
On the other hand, wRC+ means weighted Runs Created Plus, and it adjusts a player’s offensive performance to external factors like ballpark and era to determine if he has played above or below-average, with the value for “average” being 100.
Having explained that, let’s take a look at Olson’s 2022 performance so far.
He is hitting .421/.551/.684 with two home runs, a .534 wOBA, a .517 xwOBA, and a 240 wRC+: simply magnificent.
Of course, those numbers are unsustainably high to keep up for the entire season, but the point remains: he has been a stud so far with Atlanta.