Saturday, September 23, 2017

Is the A's Matt Olson the next Aaron Judge?

OAKLAND – On Star Wars Night, the Oakland A’s may finally have a new Jedi.
May the Force continue to be with you, Matt Olson.
Matt Olson? Never heard of him? He is Baseball’s Best Kept Secret right now. While the Baseball Universe has revolved about the Cleveland Indians’ insane record winning streak , the Dodgers’ ridiculous losing streak, and assorted playoff races that naturally have come into focus this time of year, the 23-year-old A’s first baseman, a first-round pick in 2012, has emerged has the game’s newest, greatest, super human-like slugging superstar.
The next Aaron Judge, if you will.
Aaron Judge you know. He plays for the Evil Empire and ESPN, MLB, and Fox made him a media megastar practically overnight leading up to the All-Star Game in July and crowned him King of Swing when he won the Home Run Hitting Contest. He got big enough in New York to qualify as a float in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Then along comes Matt Olson, Mr. Anonymous. Everything he has done has been the equal if not exceeded anything Judge has done. They both struggled mightily when called up to the big leagues last year but have redeemed themselves like Hans Solo in their major league sequel this season.
But what Olson has accomplished in comparison to Judge should prompt baseball fans to all rise. The amazing A’s player this month homered in five consecutive games and 16 of his last 24. Judge has never had a power stretch to match that.
Through his first 68 games in the big leagues, Olson has hit 24 home runs. Since 1913 – 1913! – only one player in the major leagues, Jose Abreu of the White Sox, has hit more in that short amount of time.
Moreover, Olson has homered every 7.75 at bats. For players with a minimum of 200 at bats, only Barry Bonds (6.52 in 2001) and Mark McGwire (7.27 in 1998 and 7.38 in 2000) averaged a home run in fewer at-bats.
Furthermore, if you include the 23 home runs he hit in Triple A Nashville before being called up permanently this season after the A’s traded All-Star Yonder Alonso, Olson and Giancarlo Stanton are the only players in the last 30 years to hit 20 or more homer in the minors and majors in the same season.
A’s manager Bob Melvin last week admitted he had ran out of adjectives and superlatives for Olson’s extraordinary run. His 14 home runs in September are also the most by a rookie in MLB history and the most ever by an A’s player and that includes Hall of Famer Jimmy Foxx.
And yet Judge gets all the attention, even when he strikes out, which he did for 37 consecutive games, an MLB record. Well, check out Twitter. Olson has roughly 5,000 followers on Twitter. Judge has 167,000.
Why is the world so enamored with Judge but it doesn’t give a tweet about Olson? Olson is a better fielder who puts the ball in play and over the fence far more than Judge.
Then why, why, why?
Location. Location. Location.
New York is the Media Capitol of the Solar System. Judge is there in pinstripes and the interlocking NY. Olson is in Oakland, which is losing professional sports franchises faster than the White House is losing the NFL and NBA.
The Yankees are in the playoffs no matter how many times Judge Ks. The A’s were out of the playoff race by Labor Day and have been in sole possession of last place in the AL West since May 30.
And this is September when attention in the world of sports shifts to football and Draft Kings. As fantastic as Olson has been, it pales to fantasy football.
In a nutshell, Olson and the A’s timing really sucks. This has been the best month in years for the A’s – Olson’s emergence, the announcement of a new downtown ballpark being built in Oakland, the team has won season-high six straight games and has hit more runs than anyone in September. Yet even the Giants across the Bay are getting more recognition for the fact they are fighting to avoid a 100-loss season.
Olson can’t win for trying. Before a Star Wars Night crowd of more than 38,000 feeling good about Olson’s awesome feats, another A’s win, and post-game fireworks, the media flash point turned toward another A’s rookie, Bruce Maxwell, who became the latest pro athlete, albeit the first in Major League Baseball, to kneel in protest during the National Anthem.
This now has gone from just a BlackLives Matter topic to just complete inequality of any man or woman that wants to stand for Their rights! Maxwell tweeted Saturday afternoon before the game.
Nice of Maxwell to make a stand by taking a knee. The A’s back-up catcher, the son of an Army officer, had his hand over his heart when he did. He did something heroic on an evening when A’s fans and baseball were searching the galaxy far far away for a new hero.
I thought it was Matt Olson. My timing really sucks.


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