Braves’ Matt Olson on unreal pace with hitting doubles

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI – On the final day of the series in Philadelphia, Braves first baseman Matt Olson cracked a smile and chuckled during an answer about the ridiculous amount of doubles he has hit to this point in the season.

“I know that doubles have been happening at a little higher pace than they have in the past, and home runs are probably a little lower,” Olson said, “but as long as I’m driving the ball in the gap and getting a few out, that’s where I want to stay.”

Entering Saturday’s game, Olson led all of MLB with 31 doubles, which was five more than second-place Rafael Devers. Olson ranked fourth with 43 extra-base hits. To this point, 57% of Olson’s hits have gone for extra bases, the third-highest such percentage in the sport.

His 31 doubles are four off his career high of 35, which he recorded last season. He hit 33 in 2018. More context for you: He hit only four of them in 60 games in 2020.

Olson is on pace for 64 doubles, which would be three shy of the MLB record.

“Listen, extra-base hits is what you want to go out and do,” Olson said. “Especially me being a middle-of-the-lineup first baseman, that’s kind of my job, to drive in runs.”

Olson on June 29 broke the franchise record for most doubles hit before the All-Star break. He’s on pace for 37 doubles before the break, which would tie for the fourth most since the All-Star game’s inception in 1933.

He has hit 12 home runs and is not on pace to break his career high of 39 – set last year – but he’s shown that kind of power. That shouldn’t be of much concern.

The Braves’ franchise record for extra-base hits is 92, set by the legendary Hank Aaron in 1959.

Olson is going at an unreal pace.

“Just the consistency, the professional he is, how he shows up to play every day, prepares,” manager Brian Snitker said before Friday’s game. “He fits right in here with these guys because he’s a lot like the guys that we’ve raised here. He comes, he does his work. There’s never highs and lows. He’s got a very even-keeled professional outlook on things and his play, and how he approaches.”

Braves designate Toussaint for assignment

The Braves on Saturday designated Touki Toussaint for assignment because they had to clear a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Jay Jackson, whom they returned from a rehab assignment and optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Toussaint never consistently put it together for the Braves.

Over 145 big-league innings for them, he posted a 5.46 ERA. He made 21 starts and pitched in 49 games.

This season, he had a 6.26 ERA over 41-2/3 innings at Gwinnett. He started eight games there and appeared in 13.

If the Braves want to keep him in the organization, he must clear waivers.

Swanson having a different season

Dansby Swanson collected four hits in Friday’s game. We’ll see if it officially halts what looked to be an incoming slump.

Regardless, Swanson is playing at another level this season.

He entered Saturday batting .300 with an .865 OPS. He has launched 14 homers. He has 46 RBIs.

And he has stayed hot.

Has Snitker seen anything like this from Swanson before?

“Maybe not like this,” the manager said. “I’ve seen him weather some storms over our time together, but he’s just putting things together, I think. Good at-bats and playing about as good of defense as I think you can. It’s just a really good stretch for him.”

Swanson is a free agent at season’s end. He might be driving up his price.

Riley continues cool Braves streak

Austin Riley on Saturday blasted a solo homer off Tyler Mahle in the second inning. It was Riley’s 20th of the season.

The Braves have now had a 20-homer player before the All-Star break in four consecutive seasons, if you don’t include the condensed 2020 season. Ronald Acuña hit 24 in the first half last season. Freddie Freeman (23) and Acuña (21) both achieved the feat in 2019. Ozzie Albies hit 20 before the break in 2018.

Riley is the latest to do it.