Atlanta Braves 2024 season preview: Expect big things from Matt Olson

Matt Olson is coming off his best season in the bigs, posting a 6.7 fWAR. The surging first baseman had career highs in hits, batting average, home runs, and RBIs. On a team with high expectations, can Olson keep building on his momentum.

Matt Olson catches the final out
Matt Olson catches the final out / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

2024 is a World Series or bust year for the Braves, largely because of the overall consistency and depth of their entire lineup. Since joining the Braves in 2022, no one has provided as much power as Matt Olson. Coming off a 2023 campaign that included career highs in hits, home runs, batting average, and RBIs, the Atlanta native will look to keep up his momentum heading into the 2024 season.

What worked in 2023?

Olson started the season mashing, including two homers, three RBIs, and four hits in the first two games. However, as April and May continued, it was a lot of the same player we have seen over the past few seasons. Matt consistently could hit the ball hard, racking up home runs and high exit velos. His trade off for the hard contact was the swing and miss factor, as strikeouts plagued the Braves first baseman early on.

While staying above a .300 avg most of April, Olson avg. shot down to .233 in one month. Notably the high and inside pitch was blowing past him, as his hands couldn't catch up. Yet he still racked up a quick 17 homers.

Hitting coach Kevin Seitzer didn't make any overhauls fixing Olson's swing. Instead a few tweaks were made that did not hinder his approach at the plate. While keeping his power numbers, Olson decreased his whiff% by 17% from May to July. After being selected as an All-star, he took off in the seasons second half.

Matt propelled himself into the MVP discussion. Between July 14 and October 1, Olson slugged 25 homers paired with 67 RBI. His average shot up to .321 over that timeframe while slugging .649, both up 67 and 78 points respectively compared to before the All-Star break.

Furthermore, he set franchise records for consecutive games with an RBI, knocking in 20 runs between July 28th and August 8th. Two days later, he became the fastest Brave to reach 40 homers, then 50 not long after. While he did slump some in the playoffs, it was easy to see how Olson became one of the top candidates for N.L. MVP.

What to Expect in 2024 From Matt Olson

Matt Olson could be one of the most influential players in the Braves lineup. His power makes teams pitch to the players before. There are no holes in the Braves lineup, and he helps cement one of the most lethal four spots in baseball. What makes the upcoming season so exciting is knowing Matt Olson had more time to work on his approach at the plate.

If Olson was able to make such a drastic change in due to a few tweaks in his stance, a full off season could lead to the same consistency we see from players like Acuña & Riley, just with that added power. With the work he has put in, there should be no doubt he has the potential to win an MVP. Overall, he will be pitched too with the protection around him, and is entering his prime.

FanGraphs and Baseball Reference have him projected to hit 40 & 38 home runs respectively. While those numbers are great, anyone who has truly watched Matt would say that is way too conservative.

As he adjusts into the season, Braves fans can look forward to multiple hot streaks of hard hitting and reliable defense. His track record in improving goes to show that we can expect another big season for the All-Star first baseman, a potential NL MVP favorite.

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