The Athletics have some hitters with sleeper value heading into 2018. First baseman Matt Olson is atop the list. With his power, Olson will be highly drafted.
I wrote about an Oakland Athletics player just a couple of days ago, but that was pitcher Sean Manaea. Now it’s time to talk about someone on the offensive side of the ball. First baseman Matt Olson made a big splash in his short time in the majors and is a 2018 power-hitting sleeper.
Olson played in 41 games, 36 starts, to end the season. During that span, he hit .283/.365/.725 with 20 home runs, 36 RBI and 27 runs. He also had 38 strikeouts and 14 walks. Olson finished as the 214th hitter on the Player Rater. Obviously, the lack of playing time affected his value.
However, he was one of 83 hitters to hit at least 24 home runs. Power went up exponentially last season as we’ve mentioned before. That does mean that you can draft power hitters late in the draft while focusing on other categories early.
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The A’s had Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healy man first base for the first four months of the season. The team then traded Alonso to the Seattle Mariners on August 6. Healy moved over to hit as the DH, making room for Olson.
Olson played sporadically during the summer months before staying with the team on August 8. In those first few games, he hit .196 with four home runs, nine RBI and six runs. He showed some power but it wasn’t until he got consistent playing time that we knew who Olson would be.
The Athletics traded their other first-base option, Healy, to the Mariners on Nov. 15. This leaves Olson to man first base all by himself. According to the A’s roster on ESPN, they don’t have anyone to compete for the job. He is clearly a top-15 first baseman.
Looking at his batted ball profile, Olson hit a few more ground balls in the majors compared to his time in Triple-A, 38.1 to 34.1 percent. Though, his HR/FB rate almost doubled as he joined Oakland, 21.9 to 41.4 percent.
He also had a 17.8 soft-hit rate. That would have ranked him No. 69th among all qualified hitters on FanGraphs. Despite the 27.8 strikeout rate, had a 13.4 swinging strike rate, 56.9 first-pitch strike rate and 44.9 swing rate. He wasn’t swinging at everything but the stuff he wasn’t swinging at resulted in strikeouts.
Olson ranks as my No. 13 first baseman, sandwiched between Carlos Santana and Matt Carpenter. While his RBI totals may not reach the levels of his contemporaries, his home runs will outclass them. He has the potential to reach 50 home runs and lead the American League. If he makes it past Round 10, you need to draft him immediately.