Braves’ Matt Olson destroys ESPN Top 100 rankings, sticks up for AL icon

Atlanta's slugging first baseman was shocked at the recent ranking of an MLB icon.

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves are lucky to have one of the best rosters in all of baseball. A good chunk of their roster has been ranked on a plethora of top lists heading into the 2024 season.

Matt Olson is no exception to that rule as he is ranked as one of the game's best first basemen. MLB Network has the Atlanta slugger ranked as the third-best first-baseman in all of baseball behind Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman.

ESPN recently released its top 100 list and Matt landed just outside the top ten at number 12. That's a fair ranking for the slugging third baseman with catching sensation Adley Rutschman ahead of him at 11.

The top ten on ESPN's list includes Ronald Acuña Jr. ranked in the number one spot and is expected to lead the league in stolen bases again in 2024 and in other categories. He is followed by Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager, Gerrit Cole, Yordan Alvarez, Shohei Ohtani, and Corbin Carroll.

The top ten is respectable and features some of the game's best. Something could be said for Carroll being ranked so high after just one full season in the majors but his talent is impressive enough that you could make the argument.

Olson did have an issue with the list but it wasn't for the reason you'd expect. He wasn't upset about where he or his teammates were ranked, rather he was upset with an American League icon being ranked lower than he believes they should be.

The Georgia native spoke with ESPN insider Buster Olney ($) about how "ridiculous" it was that a player like Mike Trout was ranked 19th best in Major League Baseball. Olson explained, "I know there's always recency bias, but I'm a little more swayed by the guys who have been there and done it for a while... Mike Trout at 19? That's ridiculous."

He further evaluated his point, stating, "Nolan Arenado at No. 44? Goldschmidt at 47? That's pretty wild."

Matt brings up a very important thought since sports publications often like to go with the "What have you done for me lately?" bias. Obviously, Mike Trout has struggled in recent years to stay healthy and live up to his former MVP self but there's no reason he isn't still one of the game's best.

Olson would know very well how talented Trout is as he opposed him frequently as a member of the Oakland Athletics before being traded to Atlanta.

Last season was Trout's worst year since 2011. He batted .263/.367/.490 with 18 homers and 44 RBI in 82 games. While those would be outstanding numbers for most players, it's not up to the standards many have for the former AL MVP. However, when he is healthy and on the field, there's almost no one better than Trout.

I mean all you have to do is go search for Mike Trout highlights to be reminded of the generational talent he possesses.

You earn the right to become one of MLB's best players and Trout, Arenado, and Goldy have all proven they are the best of the best and may deserve to be ranked much higher. However, at the end of the day, these are just opinions of people at ESPN.

Rankings only have as much weight as fans allow them to have. For example, Olson's teammate Ozzie Albies was completely left off MLB Network's top ten best second baseman list and then ranked him 66th on their top 100 player list. So, you can't really make sense of the thought process there.

Olson makes great points about how these lists are compiled. While it is more than okay to feature the next generation of talent on these top 100 lists, the players who have consistently performed at the highest level year after year, deserve to be a bit higher on them.

I'm sure most of the guys listed could care less about what number they are on a list built from the opinions of others. They will continue to perform at a high level regardless of that but it says a lot that their peers have taken notice.

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