Matt Olson was struggling for the Atlanta Braves at the beginning of September. However, he was able to turn it around when it mattered most.
Once the month of September rolled around, the Braves needed a big month to chase down the Mets to claim a 5th straight NL East crown. While the team was playing well in September, Olson got off to a slow start.
From September 1st to September 23rd, Matt Olson hit .111/.210/.167 1 HR, 8 R, & 4 RBI with a .177 wOBA and 6 wRC+.
Editor’s note: that’s not a typo… it’s six for that wRC+ number. It was so bad that I had to verify it.
Olson was walking at a decent clip (9.9%), but his strikeouts had spiked. His strikeout rate jumped to 32.1% from 23.0% (he finished the season with a 24.3% strikeout rate).
He was also suffering from tough BABIP luck with a .156 BABIP over this time. This can also be connected to his infield fly ball % (pop-ups) spike up to 27.3% during this time period. Hard to get hits with a bunch of pop ups.
Olson was still hitting the ball hard with an average exit velocity of 92.3 mph. However, too many popups and the increase in strikeouts were negating the power.
It became apparent that Matt Olson was pressing at the plate and could use a mental break. He had played every game for the Braves and looked like he could use a day off.
Due to this, Brian Snitker and the organization decided to give Olson a day off on September 24th. Olson entered the game defensively but did not register a plate appearance.
This proved to be exactly what the Braves first baseman needed.
Slugging September… and October
Matt Olson returned to the lineup on September 25th and looked like a new man. Over his final 43 plate appearances, he hit .351/.419/.892 with 6 HR, 9 R, & 12 RBI with a .531 wOBA and 248 wRC+.
He still struck out at a high clip of 27.9%, but had his walk rate jump back to 11.6%. Olson looked more comfortable at the plate. The pop-ups decreased drastically going from 27.3% earlier in the month to 7.1% over the final stretch.
He replaced it with a fly ball rate of 53.8% and combining that with an average exit velocity of 97 mph meant a lot of power for the Braves first baseman.
It also led to Matt Olson showing up in the biggest series of the year against the New York Mets with the NL East on the line. Over those 3 games, Olson hit .556/.636/1.556 with 3 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, .851 wOBA, and 467 wRC+.
Olson also earned NL Player of the Week honors for his performance down the home stretch.
Matt Olson showed up when it mattered most. He just really needed a day off.