Athletics first baseman Matt Olson rightfully earned his first career All-Star selection this season, but beyond the first-half numbers that sent him to Denver, he also surpassed some legendary sluggers with his success against southpaws.
“I think the most impressive thing for me is that he’s had more home runs against left-handed pitching than anybody,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Friday.
Melvin is referring to the fact that in 2021, Olson has more home runs (22) versus lefties in a season since 1961, more than both Barry Bonds (21) and Ken Griffey Jr. (21) ever had in a campaign.
Mind you, as Olson was coming up in the A’s organization a few years ago, he was being platooned with Yonder Alonso against those pitchers. Imagine that. He now finds himself with a career-high 39 home runs on the season, with two games to go.
Olson didn’t say there was a specific approach in order to make his numbers stand out, but understood the significance.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” he said. “That’s something I’m going to be proud of. Especially coming up, because I was the guy who wasn’t, you know, able to get in the lineup against lefties when I first came up and I think it’s just annoyed BoMel enough to get me in there. But you know, honestly, I do think there is, there is a lot of that that goes on in baseball now -- platooning. If I didn’t necessarily have some kind of immediate success against lefties when I got the opportunity, who knows if I would be in the spot now, so, like I said, it’s something that I don’t really put too much weight into the lefty vs. righty -- you know, everybody grew up and everybody hit both sides.”
This season, Olson is batting .272/.373/.545 with a .918 OPS and 111 RBI.
One would imagine Olson never will have to annoy Melvin again for a lefty vs. lefty matchup.