Matt Olson’s catastrophic slump shows why Dodgers outfoxed Braves

Jason Reed
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 23: Matt Olson #28 of the Atlanta Braves tosses his helmet after striking out to end the top of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 23, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Braves 9-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 23: Matt Olson #28 of the Atlanta Braves tosses his helmet after striking out to end the top of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 23, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Braves 9-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The Los Angeles Dodgers made one of the biggest signings of the offseason after the lockout finally ended when the team signed Freddie Freeman to essentially replace Corey Seager in the lineup. Freeman, the 2020 MVP, has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball, and that has continued in his time with the Dodgers.

Signing Freeman did not come without its drama, though. Freeman’s return to Atlanta spurned a drama-filled few days that even resulted in Freeman parting ways with his agent, who worked out the contract with the Dodgers.

It was just a small bump in the road for the Dodgers. Freeman continued to play at an elite level and formed a fantastic bond (and 1-2-3 punch in the lineup) with Mookie Betts and Trea Turner. This bond may end up keeping Turner in LA long-term as well.

Seeing Freeman play so well in Los Angeles has to be painful for Braves fans, especially when it appeared that most fans kicked Freeman on his way out in favor of the new first baseman in town, Matt Olson. After a hot start to the season, many Braves fans paraded around like they’d gotten the better end of the deal and improved after shedding one of the best players in franchise history.

That was merely a flash in the pan, as Freeman has been far better offensively over the course of the season, while Olson has fallen off a cliff in September, removing any confidence Braves fans had in him right before the most important part of the campaign.

The Dodgers have always known that Freddie Freeman was the better option over Matt Olson

Not only did the Braves get the worst end of the stick with Olson, but they had to trade assets in order to get him. Atlanta traded four prospects for Olson before paying up with an eight-year, $168 million contract.

The Dodgers just had to sign Freeman, and he has been better all season, even before Olson’s slump. Freeman’s yearly numbers are not even comparable to Olson, who has been on a much lower level than the former MVP.

Freeman’s batting average is 104 points higher, his OPS is 148 points higher, and his bWAR is 3.1 points higher, which is more than double Olson’s 2.3 mark for the season. Sure, Olson has more home runs and the same number of RBI, but Freeman has far more hits and has scored 111 runs compared to Olson’s 78.

The only thing making this close is Olson’s Gold Glove fielding. There are 22 first basemen with at least 500 plate appearances this season. Freeman ranks second (only behind likely NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt) in OPS+. Olson ranks 15th, sandwiched between Rowdy Tellez and C.J. Cron.

Considering the Dodgers got someone who will likely be an MVP finalist and the Braves got someone who is in the same company as Tellez and Cron, I think it is safe to say that LA got the better end of the stick.

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