In the top of the fourth inning at Citizens Bank Park, Olson took Zack Wheeler’s 95 mph four-seam fastball at the bottom of the zone and put it into the seats in left-center field. The ball, which flew through the night at 100 mph off Olson’s bat, traveled an estimated 367 feet. The solo home run tied the game.
“It’s a cool feeling,” Olson said of tying the record. “Obviously watched (Andruw) growing up and know the kind of player he was, so it’s cool to be now mentioned with him.”
Throughout their illustrious history, the Braves have fielded some of the game’s best hitters, from Hank Aaron to Eddie Mathews to Dale Murphy to Chipper Jones. This franchise has a history of greatness, with each of its legends writing a different story for himself.
In 2023, Olson is authoring one of the best campaigns in this franchise’s existence – the same franchise he rooted for as a kid. If you heard Olson talk about himself, you would never know this. He’s not one to boast.
“He never gets too high, never gets too low,” Riley said. “You never hear him talk about it. He just kind of goes about his business, and I think he expects it from himself. I think that’s the coolest part, to me. He’s not gonna pimp a homer or do anything very showy, he’s just gonna take care of business and move on. To me, that’s the cool thing.”
Whereas Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber on Monday helped Olson by retrieving the ball from the first baseman’s 50th home run from a fan, Tuesday came much easier: The Phillies fan who ended up with the ball from No. 51 threw it back onto the field, and it soon ended up in the Braves’ dugout.
When that ball first landed in the seats, Brandon Gaudin, the Braves’ play-by-play broadcaster, exclaimed: “Andruw Jones has company at the top of the mountain! Fifty-one for Matt Olson!”
On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Jones posted this (edited for clarity) in response to the Braves’ post about Olson tying his record: “Way to go, Matt Olson. Proud of you. Keep it going. Sixty (homers)?”
Years ago, Olson was at Parkview High, hoping to one day wear the same uniform as those he idolized. Now, he’s in the record books after tying Jones. As much as his talent stands out, so do his work ethic and consistent nature. Olson is as reliable as they come.
Since debuting for Oakland in 2016, Olson has twice made the All-Star Game. He’s a two-time Gold Glove Award winner.
This – 51 home runs (and counting) – might be his coolest achievement to date.
The rarity alone places Olson in a somewhat small club.
Olson’s 2023 season is the 42nd time in MLB history that a player has hit at least 51 home runs in a season. A handful of players have done it multiple times in a career.
Olson is one of 16 players, since 1995, to launch at least 51 homers in a season.
Jones and Olson are the only players in Braves franchise history to reach the 50-homer mark in a season. Jones finished the 2005 season with 51. This season, Olson tallied No. 51 in the club’s 145th game.
Olson leads the majors with 51 home runs and 128 RBIs – easily personal bests for the first baseman.
Olson entered Tuesday with 127 RBIs – the most for a National League player through 144 team games since Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard drove (139) in 2006.
“Just a really great all-around baseball player,” Max Fried said when asked what stands out most about Olson. “Obviously, the power is on the forefront and you see it a lot, and that’s what everyone’s going to talk about. But just his ability to make an impact on the game any which way, whether it’s offensively, defensively. He’s able to score from first on a double in the gap. He’s really able to affect the game in a lot of different ways.”
When asked what he’ll remember about Olson’s special season when all is said and done, Snitker said: “Just the consistency in Matt. The person he is and how he comes to the ballpark to play. He’s one of them boring pros. Every day is the same. He does his work, he prepares. You know that you don’t have to worry about who you’re gonna pencil (into) the lineup. And just how consistently he does his job, the pro he is, the person. It’s getting hard for me to talk about him because I’ve used all the superlatives and everything that’s really great about this guy so much. He’s a joy and a pleasure to manage.”
To reach 51 home runs, Olson went on one of his classic tears, which are representative of how soon he heats up. Before Sept. 3, Olson hadn’t homered in a span of 81 plate appearances over 18 games. Since that date, though, Olson has eight home runs and 16 RBIs. On Tuesday, he extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Which part of his season is Olson most proud of?
“Our record,” he said.
This is Matt Olson. He’s much more focused on winning than his own accolades, even if those are examples of his hard work paying off.
The latest was home run No. 51.
“It’s cool,” Olson said. “Obviously, I’ve been aware of the number.”
Even if it’s September, this special season is far from over. Olson could make more history.
If and when he hits another home run, he’ll stand alone in Braves history.