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Where MLB Network ranks Matt Olson among all first basemen

The Braves are absolutely loaded, featuring top 10 players at several positions. Atlanta has already been well-represented on MLB Network’s Top 10. Austin Riley was the 3rd ranked third baseman, and plenty of other Braves are making the list at other positions. We’ll get to all of them, but now, we’re looking at how the media outlet ranked Matt Olson and the rest of the first basemen.

1. Paul Goldschmidt, STL (Last year: 5)
2. Freddie Freeman, LAD (1)
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR (2)
4. Jose Abreu, HOU (8)
5. Pete Alonso, NYM (6)
6. Matt Olson, ATL (3)
7. Ty France, SEA (Not ranked)
8. Nathaniel Lowe, TEX (NR)
9. Luis Arraez, MIN (NR)
10. Rhys Hoskins, PHI (NR)

Many in Braves Country were probably slightly disappointed with Olson’s first campaign in Atlanta. Over his final season in Oakland, Olson posted 5.1 fWAR and followed it up with a 3.1 season in 2022. His September slump was painful — 8-for-83 with 28 strikeouts — but he finished the year on a tear.

Olson went 13-for-37 with six homers over the final ten games. In the NLDS against the Phillies, he was one of the few Braves players who remained productive at the plate, going 4-for-12 with two home runs. Over the entire season, he posted a 120 wRC+ and played slightly above-average defense.

I do believe Olson is better than the sixth-best player at his position, but going off his 2022 season, that’s about right. His strikeout rate jumped 8% from 2021, and his walk rate fell by 3%.

Still, Olson recorded 44 doubles, 34 homers, and a team-leading 103 RBIs. Considering he’ll be more comfortable in Atlanta, he could feel less pressured to replace Freddie Freeman. The shift ban should also benefit him. His 47 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks 3rd in the league, which would have improved his average to .288 from .250 over that period.

I think Matt Olson will have a much better second year in Atlanta than the first. Nobody should be surprised if he sniffs a .900 OPS, 40 home runs, and 5.0 fWAR.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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