By now, you’re hopefully well aware of the fact that Oakland A’s third baseman Matt Chapman is one of our game’s top defenders. In just his first full season in the big leagues, the 25-year-old won both Gold and Platinum Gloves in the American League; the Platinum Glove given to the best defensive player in each league.
As someone who’s watched nearly every game of Chapman’s career, I could go on and on about how stellar his defense is. What he does at the hot corner is incredible, and given the team he plays on, he probably doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves.
However, there’s something else that he should be getting recognition for; his offense. Often shadowed by his glove, Chapman’s bat is quietly becoming one of the best in baseball. Over 616 plate appearances in 2018, he batted .278 with 24 HR, 68 RBI, .356 OBP, 137 wRC+, .230 ISO and .864 OPS. He also posted a well above-average hard contact % of 43.2, to go along with a small 16.1 soft contact %. Chapman posted strong offensive numbers across the board, showing the ability to get on-base consistently while adding some power.
While the numbers are impressive, it’s also important to note that they were brought down by a slow start to the season. He hit just .250 with 116 wRC+, a .184 ISO and .776 OPS in the first half, but turned things around by batting .309 with a .371 OBP, .282 ISO, .405 wOBA and 164 wRC+ in the second. Also, despite playing 17 less games in the second half due to a thumb contusion, Chapman collected 39 RBI, 10 more than his total of 29 in the first half. It was a terrific offensive second half for the former first-rounder, who became one of, if not the most valuable player for the Athletics in their playoff run last season.
He hasn’t slowed down at all this year, either. Through 23 games in 2019, Chapman has batted .309 with 6 HR, 14 RBI, .378 OBP, .284 ISO and 161 wRC+. Although a small sample size, the numbers are very similar to the ones he posted throughout the second half of last year. He’s also cut back on strikeouts, which was an issue for him, posting a 10.0 K% in 2019 after a 23.7% rate last season.
Many questioned what kind of offensive productivity we’d see from Chapman this season because of his elevated BABIP. He posted a .338 mark in 2018, but even though it’s lowered to .288 this season, he’s still seen similar results. Chapman has continued to hit the ball hard in 2019 with a 40.3 hard contact %, which has led to more strong performance on the offensive end.
In the early part of just his second full season in the big leagues, Matt Chapman is already becoming one of the top all-around players in this game. Many already consider him to be the best defender in baseball, which can be supported by his stats, and now he’s turning into one of the top hitters as well. If Chapman can continue to produce at this rate, and at such a young age, he could be a star in the Majors for many years to come.
Photo Source: Getty Images Stats as of Sunday, April 21, 2019