Matt Olson broke the hamate bone in his right hand early in the second game of the 2019 season during an international series with the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo.
The injury was expected to bring about a power outage, even in Olson’s sweet swing. Others returning from the injury saw home run decreases in the short term at least, so the A’s first baseman wasn’t expected to be his typical mashing self after more than six weeks out of the lineup.
He defied expectations, hitting with as much power he has in his career. Olson believed having to keep his hands relaxed allowed him to connect regularly and go on quite a run.
Olson was awesome during the 60 games after his return, with 60 hits, 20 home runs and 40 RBIs during that span.
It wasn’t his first 60 game surge. He played just 59 games in 2017 but hit 24 home runs and 45 RBIs in that run.
The reason for seeking out 60 game hot streaks is obvious. That’s how many opportunities players will have in a shortened season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He isn’t the only A’s position player capable of getting scalding hot over a relatively short span. Designated hitter Khris Davis finished the 2018 season strong, with an unreal stat line over 60 games in a stretch that ended with the A’s second-to-last game.
He had 26 home runs and 57 RBIs in that run, hitting multiple home runs several times in that span. That’s the type of output that could carry a team, as Davis has done several times during his A’s career.
While position players can have a greater impact while working every day, pitchers can come out strong at the start. Frankie Montas was in a great groove to start the year, with a 7-2 record over 12 starts in a 60-game window – he remained hot in two starts after that -- with a 2.83 ERA and 69 strikeouts to 19 walks over 70 innings pitched.
A positive test for performance-enhancing drugs spoiled that campaign, but a dominant pitcher can prevent prolonged losing streaks and be responsible for a huge chunk of wins in a season where each one comes at a premium.