Matt Olson’s powerful MLB start comes after years of cardboard

He’s had a long road to MLB but he’s here — and at the moment he’s under the radar and hot.

He’s Oakland A’s rookie first baseman Matt Olson and he’s got 11 home runs in his last 15 games — 22 for the year. Olson, 23, was a first-round pick of the A’s way back in 2012 and he’s delivering so far with a .267 average and all those longballs in just 172 at-bats this season.

That long road? It’s even longer when it comes to cardboard.

Olson’s first baseball cards come via the USA Baseball route with his debut coming back in 2010 as a pitcher on the 16U National Team. That’s back when Topps briefly handled USA cardboard. Since then? He’s appeared on more than 800 different baseball cards — and more than 300 of those are certified autographs.

His first MLB autos can be found in 2012 Bowman Sterling, Elite Extra Edition, Leaf Metal Draft, Leaf Ultimate Draft, Leaf Valiant Draft and Rize (not issued in packs) releases. His first Bowman Chrome autos arrived a year later.

In his six minor-league seasons, Olson hit .249 with 126 homers in 665 games. His best season included 37 homers for Stockton in 2014 and he had 23 for Nashville this season. (Hitting 45 for the year ain’t shabby. It also makes up for his 11 MLB games last season where he hit just .095.)

With all that cardboard during that time, he’s got plenty for collectors to chase — pretty much on the cheap — and they’re mostly all found in his present uniform, which helps.

Right now, he might be one of the best bargain players to collect in MLB and he could end up being a big bargain if the power continues.

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