ATLANTA — Matt Olson might be putting together the least talked about 50 home run chase in major league history. Olson homered for the fourth straight game Thursday night and helped the Atlanta Braves snap a three-game losing streak with an 8-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The homer was Olson’s 47th of the season which is a significant number in that it ties him with Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews for the second most in franchise history.
“Wow, pretty good company,” Brian Snitker said of Olson after the game. “That says something. Guys like Chipper, Andruw, Javy, all them kind of guys that have come through here. David Justice, Ronnie Gant, all those guys. I mean, you’re talking about some big time names and great players that he’s in company with. That’s pretty special.”
Mathews hit 47 homers in 1953 for the Milwaukee Braves while Aaron reached his mark in 1971. They shared the record until Andruw Jones broke it with 51 home runs in 2005. Olson is now just four homers away from tying Andruw and with 23 games remaining, is well positioned to blow right past it.
“Just the natural ebbs and flows of the season,” Olson said of his streak after the game. “There’s going to be times where you square balls up. There’s going to be times where you’re missing pitches to hit. Just been able to get the barrel to a few lately.”
He’s been barreling balls up for most of the season.
Olson has played in all of the Braves’ 139 games to this point and is hitting .272/.378/.599 with a 155 wRC+. He has already set a new career high for runs scored (109) and RBI (116). His worst month this season was in May where he posted “only” a 123 wRC+. He’s hit at least seven homers in every month of the season and already has four in his first six games in September.
Olson’s first season in Atlanta was a solid debut, but fell short of the eye-popping numbers that many were expecting from him after coming over from Oakland. It can also be said that uprooting your life and having to move all the way across the country while replacing a franchise legend can also add some pressure to the situation.
“We knew coming in the high quality person he is and we said, if we’re going to lose Freddie, Matt was the perfect guy,” Snitker said of Olson. “You couldn’t go out and make a trade for anybody else that’s going to be better than what he brings. Now spending a year and a half, almost two years with him, it’s everything that I thought it would be.”
Olson shouldn’t be in anyone’s shadow at this point. Yet he is doing all of this with little fanfare. Part of that is because teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. is also having a record breaking season and the Braves as a whole are threatening every home run record the league has ever seen. Still, Olson is about to do something that Hank never did and it isn’t often that you get to say something like that.