|Atlanta Braves – No. 28|
|Born: March 29, 1994|
|September 12, 2016, for the Oakland Athletics|
|MLB statistics |
(through August 21, 2022)
|Runs batted in||456|
|Career highlights and awards|
Matthew Kent Olson (born March 29, 1994) is an American professional baseball first baseman for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Oakland Athletics.
Olson made his MLB debut with Oakland in 2016. After six seasons with the Athletics, he was traded to the Braves prior to the 2022 season and signed an eight-year contract extension. Olson has won two Gold Glove Awards, three Fielding Bible Awards, and was an All-Star in 2021.
Olson is the second son of Scott and Lee Olson. Scott Olson served as his sons' youth baseball coach, until high school. Matt Olson's older brother, Zack, later pitched for the Harvard Crimson. Matt Olson attended Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia, where he played first base and pitched for the Parkview Panthers, leading them to back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012. Olson finished his high school career with a .431 batting average, 44 doubles, 45 home runs, 168 runs batted in (RBIs), and a fielding percentage over 0.980. He holds the Parkview High School and Gwinnett County records for wins and RBIs. His uniform number, No. 21, was retired by Parkview High School in February 2019. After graduating from high school with honors in 2012, Olson was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. He had committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt University, but ultimately decided to forgo his commitment to the Commodores and signed with Oakland.
Olson made his professional debut that season with the Arizona League Athletics and also played for the Vermont Lake Monsters that first season. In total, he played in 50 games and hit .282/.352/.521 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs.
In 2013, Olson played with the Beloit Snappers. In 134 games he hit .225/.326/.435 though still hit 23 home runs while driving in 93 RBIs.
Olson played the 2014 season with the Stockton Ports. Throughout the season he was among the home run leaders in Minor League Baseball, as during the season he batted .262/.404/.543 with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs in 138 games, leading all minor leaguers with 500 or more plate appearances with a walk percentage of 18.5%. He played the 2015 season with the Midland RockHounds where he hit .249 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs in 133 games. Olson played the entire 2016 minor league season with the Nashville Sounds. In 131 games, he batted .235 with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs.
The Athletics purchased Olson's contract on September 12, 2016, and he was called up to the major league club. He played in 11 games for Oakland. In 2017, Olson split time between Nashville and Oakland. In 79 games for Nashville he batted .272 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs, and in 59 games for Oakland, he hit .259 with 24 home runs and 45 RBIs. With Oakland he hit 13 in the month of September (a rookie record) and one in five straight games. It was tied for third-most home runs in a player's first 65 career games in MLB history.
Olson spent all of 2018 with Oakland, playing in all 162 games. On April 18, Olson hit his first career walk-off, an RBI single to secure a 12–11 comeback win over the Chicago White Sox. His first walk-off home run came in a game against the Houston Astros on August 17. On September 26, he hit his first career grand slam in a 9–3 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Olson finished his 2018 campaign batting .247 with 29 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also won his first Gold Glove Award, leading all AL first basemen with 14 defensive runs saved and an 11.6 ultimate zone rating.
Olson played in both games of the 2019 Opening Series in Tokyo, Japan. During the second game on March 21, he was removed from the game after he felt pain in his right hand. The next day, he underwent successful surgery to remove the hamate bone from the hand, returning to the lineup on May 7. He batted .267/.351/.545 for the 2019 season. On defense, he had a 13 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) rating, the best in the major leagues among first basemen. He received his second consecutive Gold Glove Award for his defensive performance.
On July 24, 2020, Olson hit the first Opening Day walk-off grand slam since 1986. Olson struggled in the 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, batting .195, although he led the Oakland A's in games played (60), home runs (14) and RBIs (42).
In 2021, Olson led the team in games played (156), hits (153), home runs (39), RBIs (111), walks (88) ranked second for batting average (.271) and on-base percentage (.371) and led the team in slugging percentage (.540). Olson was also selected for the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game to represent the American League and participated in the 2021 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby. Olson was a finalist for the Silver Slugger Award and for the Gold Glove Award.
On March 14, 2022, the Athletics traded Olson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Cristian Pache, Shea Langeliers, Joey Estes, and Ryan Cusick. The next day, Olson signed an 8-year contract extension worth $168 million. At the time it was announced, the extension was the largest contract in team history, surpassing an eight-year deal worth $135 million signed by Freddie Freeman in 2014. Its length and total value were exceeded by a contract given to teammate Austin Riley later that season. Olson primarily wore the number 28 jersey with the Oakland Athletics, and used the same number upon signing with the Braves. Olson started wearing number 28 upon his 2017 major league promotion to Oakland because his preferred number 21, which he wore to honor Jeff Francoeur, was then being used by Stephen Vogt.
Olson and his wife Nicole married in November 2021. They reside in Atlanta, Georgia.
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One day after cutting ties with Freddie Freeman, the Atlanta Braves signed new first baseman Matt Olson to a $168 million, eight-year contract on Tuesday...The payout is the largest in Braves' history, surpassing the $135 million, eight-year deal that Freeman signed after the 2013 season.