Saturday, February 22, 2014

Matt Olson and the dinger

Chris Carter's legacy within the Athletics' organization has been reborn with the likes of Matt Olson, another tremendous 6'4", 230 pound first baseman/corner outfielder who concluded his Midwest League debut with a double digit HR total for the month of August to finish with an official 23 longballs, which was enough to rank second throughout the organization behind Max Muncy. Unlike Muncy however, Olson is going to thrive upon dingers while housed by the A's, likely to always be burdened with a ghastly strikeout percentage and having to compensate with some shots over the outfield fences. Truly now, as we can dissect his first full season attempt, it can be argued that Olson is the best pure power hitter Oakland has had in their possession since the Carter era, back when Vernon embarked upon his historic 39 HR romp with the league champion 2008 Stockton Ports as a 21 year old. It'll be another rehashing of trogdor with Olson as a 20 year old with the Ports six years later during the 2014 campaign, with a sometimes inconsistent stint with Beloit unlikely to stunt his progress onward to the California League. With a porch jutting outward from right field for the left handed piece to target, unbridled winds and oppressive humidity resulting in absurd homer distances, Olson could probably match Michael Choice's 30 HR attempt during 2011 while wearing a blindfold. Undoubtedly, there will be some horrid misses and Olson's swing mechanics could be altered meticulously which would consequently interfere with his loopy dinger enabling approach, but the organization should allow him to tackle the Cal League unhinged with it only being his second Athletics year, something incredibly exciting for those attending contests at Banner Island this season. Legitimately, Olson has a phenomenal opportunity to become the first 40 HR hitter in Stockton history, and therefore develop into one of the most fearsome power prospects in baseball, already having ranked 5th in ISO (.210) amongst Class A assets below 21 years old during the 2013 campaign  just slightly behind Joey Gallo, Byron Buxton, Nick Williams and Corey Seager (Minimum 300 PAs). 

Despite meager statistical marks after finding it somewhat of a difficulty to acclimate to Midwest League competition prior to August, Olson ended his 2013 by literally swinging at everything, with 10 HR and 39 strikeouts in just shy of 120 plate appearances including a five game stretch with five dingers (8-21, 3 doubles, 5 HR, 6 strikeouts) between August 19th-23rd versus Wisconsin and Kane County in a frenzy that showcased his monstrous potential. While greatly unharnessed, his might still is pretty tantalizing from Oakland's perspective, featuring as the best pure power asset within the farm system at the moment, with his only possible competitor for that designation coming from Ryan Huck. The former Georgia prep sensation had committed to Vanderbilt before the A's scrounged him up as the 47th overall selection in the 2012 Draft, featuring as dominant ace upon the mound for Parkview as well, but the Athletics seemed convinced to capitalize upon his strength rather than utilize him as a finesse pitcher. He proceeded to rip past inferior AZL arsenals with a .237 ISO and .282/.345/.520 slash through 197 PAs before he was granted with a Vermont assignment and went 3-11 with a HR and a 3:4 BB/K that convinced Oakland's MiLB curators to stash him upon Burlington's postseason roster. It was remarkable first few months for the Athens native, who then trekked to Wisconsin with the Snappers as Oakland shifted their MWL affiliation. 

Carter, to compare, had a more imposing season prior to joining Oakland in 2007 with Kannapolis, however the South-Atlantic is a far more offensively charged league and Carter (20) was a year older than when Olson attempted as a 19 year old. Just for visual purposes, here are their Low-A résumés:

Matt Olson: .225/.326/.435, 558 PAs, 23 HR, .210 ISO, .349 wOBA, 114 wRC+, .272 BABIP, 12.9% BB%, 26.5% K%. 

Chris Carter (2007): .288/.382/.512, 537 PAs, 24 HR (Same amount as Logan Morrison in the Sally League that year as well... Which is interesting I guess), .224 ISO, .396 wOBA, 138 wRC+, .327 BABIP, 12.5% BB%, 20.5% K% 

Olson is definitely more of a pull oriented offensive presence, as evidenced by scouting reports and statistically by his BABIP percentages, something that'll undoubtedly be emphasized before April. And Carter unfortunately didn't have a legitimate age 19 full season sample to utilize, but was overmatched by SAL repetiores through a mere 13 contests in 2006 to conclude his rookie professional season before said aforementioned statistical result. So, should Olson make improvements one would expect from a budding teenage power phenom, he ought to be able approach that Trogdor performance. Plus, you plop that in the Cal League, and you're just getting silly. To complement Olson as well, he features a considerably more elite defensive cog than Carter ever was, after being named Baseball America's best defensive 2013 MWL 1B with an additional means that should bolster his value. 

Olson has similarly drawn Dan Vogelbach comparisons for his sheer physical capabilities at the plate and accounting for how the two originated from an identical scouting regions as preparatory sensations before being drafted. Although, the two differ drastically in regards to their discipline, as Olson will always wield absurd strikeout rates and amass equally as ludicrous dinger totals whereas Chicago's Troggy will more constrained and have a significantly lowered punchout rate. Olson is probably a medium between Joey Gallo and Voggie, not accumulating the gaudy and eyepopping annual homer rates (Except for in this 2014) as Gallo but contrasting that with better discipline than Texas' adolescent power threat, which really says something about Gallo for you... Regardless though, Olson is the only one of these three that'll have the pleasure of arriving in the California League, and while he'll need to contort his approach as he progresses through to Midland and Sacramento, 2014 ought to serve as a remarkable display of a bonkers five month long home run derby for onlookers to enjoy. Even should Olson exhibit some deficiencies, his youth shall serve as an excuse and he'll have ample opportunities to tweak prior to advancing through the minor league system, which means this campaign is Olson essentially freestyling within California, something that could shatter Oakland Athletics organizational dinger marks. Stockton's resident cleanup piece should breakthrough for the Ports, regardless if this inflated 2014 power production may never be seen again throughout his career. So just settle in, relax and watch the dingers fly 

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