Matt Olson isn't one to take a game off. The A's first baseman played all 60 regular-season games for Oakland this year, and all 162 in 2018. Sometimes, however, rest is needed and can come with big rewards.
After beating the Chicago White Sox in the American League Wild Card Series, the A's had three full days without a game before their American League Division Series clash with the Houston Astros starts Monday. It doesn't sound like much, but it could be exactly what Olson needs right now.
"Sometimes a few days off isn’t the worst thing," Olson said Sunday to reporters. "I haven’t been swinging the bat well at all, so a couple days to get in the cage and work on some things is good for me personally."
Olson has been on the field, in the batting cages and watching video as the A's prepare for Lance McCullers Jr. and the Astros in Game 1 on Monday. Olson earned a handful of AL MVP votes last season when he hit .267 with 36 home runs and an .896 OPS. This season, however, has been a struggle for the powerful first baseman.
While Olson still led the A's in homers (14) and RBI (42), he hit just .195 with a .310 on-base percentage. He struck out 77 times, which was 36.7 percent of his at-bats. The AL Wild Card Series wasn't kind to Olson, too. He went hitless against the White Sox (0-for-9) and struck out six times in three games.
The last few days, though, Olson has been able to take a step back and focus on specific areas of his game at the plate.
“You guys probably know it’s been a little bit of a grind for me," Olson said. "I turn on the video and a lot of things look the same. It’s been tough trying to pinpoint what exactly the deal is. I’m swinging on some pitches where I feel like I’m right on them, and then I’m fouling them off or swinging right through them.
"Where I’m at right now, I think I’m just getting a little too far out with my stride and kind of losing the weight on my backside and letting my hips leak forward. I’ve been focusing on that, getting a little better base and hopefully can get more consistent.”
Olson is 0-for-10 career against McCullers with four strikeouts. Make no mistake about it. He will be in manager Bob Melvin's lineup, and Olson expects that zero to change in a hurry.
This hasn't been the season Olson expected, but then again, the same can go for anybody. A new series brings a clean slate for the powerful left-hander who will look to take advantage of a hitter-friendly Dodger Stadium, and a few days' rest could be exactly what Olson needed.
In reality, it's what we all could use right now.