Maybe it’s because MLB executives have wanted to push the steroid era away for so long and so passionately, hoping that we would erase all the numbers from our minds. Back then, 50 home runs was pretty much a buy-in. Some pretty silly names got the point across. My favorite is probably Brady Anderson. Still, the campaign to neutralize the records from 1998-2007 or whatever has left 50 home runs still feeling pretty sacred and huge to many baseball fans.
And Matt Olson has 51 home runs. The season still runs for two and a half weeks.
It’s not that Olson is a bad player. Far from it. This isn’t about Chris Davis hitting 126 home runs in three seasons and then never being able to hit anything with a cricket bat again. Olson was a pretty solid hitter from Oakland to Atlanta, with four seasons of 30-plus home runs and another with 29.
Does Olson still cross the threshold of a legendary season? Yes, Aaron Judge hit 62 last year. But he’s a perennial MVP candidate. Giancarlo Stanton scored 59 points in 2017, although there was a time when he was the most feared hitter in the game. Back before all the king’s horses and men just stared at the remains of him and decided to just eat lunch. Pete Alonso only recently broke the mark, so maybe it’s just not as big of a deal as it once was. Given the emphasis and power, the fly balls, the launch angle and the home runs, that’s just how the game is.
Still, it seems to me that Olson’s climb to this particular mountain peak was as quiet as possible. Maybe it’s because he’s not even the best player on his team. That honor goes to Ronald Acuna Jr., who has already accomplished something even rarer with 30 home runs and over 65 steals.
Maybe Olson was “the other guy” in the Freddie Freeman Atlanta fiasco, with the former making sure everyone knew he never wanted to leave, even after he left. Additionally, Freeman technically has the better offensive season (164 wRC+ to 161 for Olson).
Maybe it’s just the consistent brilliance of Atlanta throughout the season, which has been the best team in baseball since opening day. Olson feels like another perfectly whirring cog in the machine, despite his crazy number of home runs.
Maybe I’m just old and 50 home runs isn’t that big of a deal. And that a perfectly good, genuinely good player like Olson can hit the mark, rather than it being reserved only for the giants who walk among us.
Matt Olson, 51 home runs. May end at around 55. We just have to get used to it.
Trea Turner is still rolling
It didn’t help the Phillies in the end, but Trea Turner did it again last night:
That left the game tied in the 9th, although Philly would lose in 10, just like yesterday when Bryce Harper tied the game in the 9th (Phillies Bullpen vs. Phille Bullpen). Turner has 11 home runs in his last 13 games and since August 4th he has a wRC+ of 224 with an OPS of 1.231.
Some would praise the standing ovation Turner received that day for the turnaround, which was a real departure from what Philly fans should be. That didn’t stop them from booing him beforehand, which they certainly did.
Perhaps the real reason is that Turner is chasing far fewer breaking pitches out of the zone (44 percent in June, 30 percent now) while throwing all the fastballs he sees into the air. Maybe it only took me four months to agree to this contract. It’s not always easy. Whatever the reason, there has rarely been anyone so nuclear for so long.
Crow-Armstrong shows some leather for the Cubs
The Cubs drafted No. 1 prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong on Monday, who made his first start on Tuesday. How much he will contribute in the final games is unknown, and whether his dimwitted manager David Ross will be the one to get the best out of him is even less clear, but it is already clear that the glove will play:
This wasn’t even the best:
All in one working day.
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https://deadspin.com/matt-olson-51-home-runs-atlanta-braves-andruw-jones-1850833230 Matt Olson of the Atlantans has 51 home runs