PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Andruw Jones had a hunch when the Braves traded for Matt Olson in 2022 — then immediately signed him to a $168 million, eight-year contract — that his season home run record wouldn’t last long.
“I thought Matt would be the guy to break the record,” Jones said last weekend in Atlanta when his number was retired. “He’s just got that swing. I’m pulling for him and hopefully he can break it.”
One more long ball this year and Olson will be all alone in Atlanta’s record book.
Olson can set the franchise mark of 52 on Wednesday should he go deep when the Braves play the Philadelphia Phillies and try to clinch their sixth straight NL East title with a victory. Atlanta is already guaranteed a playoff spot.
For at least one night, he’s even with Jones at 51. Olson hit a solo shot in Atlanta’s 7-6 win over the Phillies in 10 innings on Tuesday, tying the team record Jones set in 2005.
“way to go @mattolson21 proud of you keep it going 60?” Jones wrote on social media.
Olson was raised in the Atlanta area and grew up a fan of Jones and the Braves.
“It’s a cool feeling,” Olson said. “I watched him growing up and know the kind of player he was. It’s cool to be mentioned with him.”
Olson hit the first pitch he saw from starter Zack Wheeler in the fourth inning into the left-field seats. The fan who caught the ball threw it back onto the field. Olson hit two homers a night earlier against the Phillies, and the milestone 50th had to be retrieved from a fan.
“He’s a tough at-bat,” Olson said about Wheeler. “So to be able to get one off him is good.”
Olson, also the sixth player in franchise history with at least 80 extra-base hits, has 128 RBIs this season. He never hit more than 39 homers in a season before this year.
Hard to believe, but for a franchise that boasted Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy and a slew of other prodigious sluggers, Jones and Olson are the only Braves to hit 50 home runs in a season.
Olson, who also has a 10-game hitting streak, entered the game on pace for 56 homers and 143 RBIs. He is just one of 15 players since 2000 to reach the 50-homer mark and the first left-handed hitter in the NL to hit 50 since Prince Fielder in 2007.
Olson has eight home runs in 12 games in September.