Perhaps it’s because the higher ups at MLB have wanted to discount the Steroid Era for so long and so passionately, with the hopes that we might erase all the numbers from our memories. Back then 50 homers was pretty much a buy-in. Some pretty silly names got to the mark. My favorite is probably Brady Anderson. Still, the campaign to neutralize 1998-2007, or whatever, from the records has meant that to a lot of baseball fans, 50 homers still feels pretty hallowed, immense.
And Matt Olson has 51 homers. With two and and a half weeks left in the season.
It’s not that Olson is a bad player. Far from it. This isn’t Chris Davis popping for 126 homers over three seasons and then unable hit anything with a cricket paddle ever again. Olson has been a pretty solid slugger from Oakland to Atlanta, with four 30+ homer seasons and another one of 29.
Still, Olson crossing the threshold of a legendary season? Yes, Aaron Judge cracked 62 last year. But he’s a perennial MVP candidate. Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 in 2017, though there was a time when he was the most feared slugger in the game. Back before all the king’s horses and men just stared at the pieces left of him and decided to just go get lunch. Pete Alonso has pierced the mark too recently, so maybe it just isn’t that big of a deal as it used to be. Given the emphasis and power, fly balls, launch angle, and homers this is just the way the game is.
Still, feels like Olson’s ascent to this particular mountain top has been just about as quiet as can be. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s not even the best player on his team. That honor belongs to Ronald Acuna Jr., who has already done something even rarer with 30 homers and over 65 steals.
Maybe it’s that Olson has been “The other guy” in the Freddie Freeman-Atlanta fiasco, with the former making sure everyone knows that he never wanted to leave even after he left. Also, Freeman is technically having the better offensive season (164 wRC+ to 161 for Olson).
Maybe it’s just the season long, steady brilliance of Atlanta, who have been baseball’s best team since pretty much Opening Day. Olson feels like just another perfectly humming cog in the machine, even with his bonkers total of homers.
Maybe I’m just old, and 50 homers isn’t that big of a deal. And that a perfectly fine, a perfectly really good player like Olson, can hit the mark instead of it being only reserved for the giants who walk among us.
Matt Olson, 51 homers. May finish with 55 or so. We’ll just have to get used to it.
Trea Turner still rolling
It didn’t help the Phillies in the end, but Trea Turner was doing that thing again last night:
This tied the game in the 9th, though Philly would lose in 10 just like they did yesterday when Bryce Harper tied the game in the 9th (Phillies bullpen gonna Phille bullpen). Turner has 11 homers in his last 13 games, and since August 4th he has a 224 wRC+ with a 1.231 OPS.
Some would like to credit a standing ovation Turner got on that date for the turnaround, marking a true departure from what Philly fans are supposed to be. That didn’t stop them from booing him before that, which they certainly did.
Perhaps the real reason is that Turner is chasing way fewer breaking pitches out of the zone (44 percent in June, 30 percent now), while barreling all the fastballs he’s seeing. Perhaps it just took four months to settle in with that contract. It’s not always easy. Whatever the reason, there’s rarely been someone this nuclear for this long.
Crow-Armstrong flashes some leather for Cubs
The Cubs called up their #1 prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong on Monday, and he got his first start Tuesday. How much he’ll contribute in these last few games is unknown, and whether or not his moron manager David Ross is the one to get the best out of him is even less clear, but it’s already apparent the glove will play:
That wasn’t even the best one:
All in a day’s work.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social