Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND — When you think of the MLB leaders in bunt hits, A's slugger Matt Olson probably doesn't come to mind.

At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Olson is not exactly fleet of foot. He's also one of the game's premier power hitters, launching 58 home runs in his first 250 games, an average of 38 per 162 games.

Yet here we are, nearly a third of the way into the season, and Olson is tied for the American League lead with three bunt hits. And he has done it in just 19 games.

Olson laid down his most recent bunt single in Saturday's 6-5 win over the Mariners, beating the shift in the first inning.

"Honestly, I think it's always in play unless it's kind of late in the game and I'm a tying or go-ahead run, something where driving the ball would be big for us," Olson told NBC Sports California. "Other than that, it's free reign in my mind. As long as I keep getting shifted, I'm going to keep taking those free hits and see how the defenses adjust to it."

The 25-year-old has seen a steady diet of infield shifts since he rose to prominence last season. For the most part, opposing defenses will leave the entire left side of the infield open, almost daring Olson to bunt.

"Any time you have the ability to lay a bunt down to scoot the field back over, I think it's going to play to his favor," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I mean, they play everybody on the other side. They even had four outfielders on him (earlier this season), just giving up that side of the field. He's done it with one strike too.

 

"A lot of times, it's, throw a strike and then everybody moves back. He's done it a few times. The more he does that, the more honest they're going to have to play him."

[RELATED: Melvin expects Rodney to keep pitching after A's DFA'd him]

Olson laughed at the idea that he's an elite bunter. He works on it occasionally, but when the infield shifts are that extreme, he doesn't have to be anywhere near perfect to get the job done.

"Maybe once in a blue moon, I get out off the machine and just see some velocity and do it," he said. "It's something that I want to continue to do. As long as they're giving it to me, which I'm sure they will continue to do, I'm going to take advantage of it."