In both fantasy circles and real-life baseball circles, there is one rookie who is taking the league by storm. He has always been a decently regarded prospect, and the fact that he could hit for power has never really been a secret among those who followed minor-league baseball. On the other hand, he was never quite an elite prospect and absolutely nobody expected him to be a superstar, particularly not from Day 1. That’s what he’s doing, though, and he’s hitting home runs at a startling rate. It deserves your attention. No, I’m not talking about Rhys Hoskins. I’m talking about Matt Olson.
To be clear, Olson hasn’t been quite as electric as Hoskins has been to start his career. It’s understandable that the latter has gotten more attention. That being said, whether it’s because of his relative lack of prospect pedigree, the fact that he plays on the West Coast, other factors entirely, or a combination of everything I just mentioned, Olson hasn’t really gotten the proper amount of attention for a rookie who has hit 18 home runs in 50 games and has a good chance of hitting 20 home runs in both the majors and the minors in the same season.
Although he doesn’t have notable prospect pedigree (as noted above), Olson didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, either. The left-handed first baseman was a compensatory pick for Oakland back in 2012 being taken 47th overall. As a first baseman, it’s obviously harder to gain traction on top prospect lists, but he did put up strong numbers throughout most of his minor-league career, and made MLB Pipeline’s top-100 list in both 2015 and 2016.
All of this is to say that this isn’t someone who came up out of nowhere in the middle of the summer and is on a hot run. Olson is a legitimately good hitter who is hitting out of his mind right now, and it’s kind of being ignored. For fantasy purposes, with the season just about over, the focus is mostly turned toward 2018 and whether or not he can keep this up for next year. The short answer is no. He’s been one of the very best fantasy players in baseball since coming up, and he’s probably not an elite hitter to this level, just like no one expects Hoskins to be a Bondsian-level power hitter moving forward. That being said, if Olson is flying this much under the radar while he’s on a run in which he’s posting a .364 ISO to start his career with a .312 TAv then he could be a steal in drafts next year.
The good news for Olson and the most important thing you need to know is that this power is largely legit. I wouldn’t bet on him hitting nearly 60 home runs (his 162-game pace right now) next year, but he’s going to hit plenty. Olson is a large human being with superhero strength and a fly-ball swing that has allowed him to hit for massive power throughout his professional career. Even without the top prospect shine, scouts agreed that he’d at least be able to hit for power at the highest level. Playing in Oakland is never great for home run hitters, but Olson has shown that this won’t be enough to stop him.
The bad news is that the rest of his fantasy profile might not be elite. This is where he becomes a bit tricky as you try to value him going into 2018. Right now, Olson is sporting a solid .268 AVG. That’s nothing to write home about, of course, but with his power that is more than enough to be happy with. It doesn’t look to be his true-talent, though. Unless he turns into a high-BABIP player — which is unlikely given his lack of speed and batted ball tendencies — his strikeout tendencies are going to keep his AVG down closer to .240 in the most likely scenario. On top of that, it’s not clear how much better the Athletics lineup is going to be moving forward, so he probably won’t provide a huge bump in runs or RBI.
Olson is in a weird place where right now. He is much better than he’s being given credit for, but it’s easy to see a scenario where next spring he gains so much helium that he’s overrated. For those in long-term leagues with an ability to acquire him early in the offseason, that could be the right time. Hoskins (justifiably so) could still be stealing the late-season headlines at that point. With his swing and miss tendencies, he’s probably never going to be a fantasy star, but Olson has shown that he can be a very valuable piece at first base or corner infield, and it’s hardly been noticed.Paste post text here
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