Players drafted in the first round don’t tend to be seen as underrated. Any prospect who winds up being taken that early in the draft becomes a household name among that fan base and eventually, among MLB.
But if you asked a casual baseball fan outside of the Bay Area about Matt Olson, many likely wouldn’t be able to tell you a single fact about the slugger.
And yet, the A’s first baseman hit a home run every 13.4 at-bats in 2019, which if stretched out over a career, would be the third-best mark in MLB history.
An injury in Oakland’s second regular-season game forced Olson to miss 34 games early in the season, yet he still managed to lead AL first basemen in home runs (36) and WAR (5.4).
Sports Illustrated recently listed Olson as the A's most underrated player, and it's understandable when you dive deeper on the 26-year-old.
Olson's defense might be even more impressive than his powerful abilities at the plate, as he also led MLB first basemen in defensive runs saved with 18.
In fact, Olson was 10th among AL hitters in WAR, sandwiched between New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and Cleveland Indians star Francisco Lindor.
The A's not making much postseason noise likely has kept Olson's name from the general baseball fan's lexicon, but his numbers are no joke.
His early-season injury kept him from being a 2019 All-Star, but he ended the season far and away superior to AL reserves Jose Abreu and Daniel Vogelbach, not to mention starting first baseman Carlos Santana.
Some might argue outfielder Mark Canha is more underrated, but Canha isn't nearly the burgeoning star that Olson already has shown himself to be.
2020 was going to be the year for Olson to establish himself on a national stage, but the coronavirus has put those plans on an indefinite hold.
Olson already has earned respect from local fans and pundits, but he hasn't quite earned the universal acclaim across baseball that someone of his talent should.
Whenever baseball does return in some fashion, it shouldn’t take long for Olson to begin getting the national shine he deserves.