Oakland Athletics: Is Matt Chapman A Future Star?

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 04: Matt Chapman
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 04: Matt Chapman /

Matt Chapman has displayed flashes of brilliance, but can he develop into a star for the Oakland Athletics?

The Oakland Athletics opened the season with Trevor Plouffe at third base. Matt Chapman, meanwhile, opened the year with the A’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.

Plouffe was acquired in the offseason in an effort to revamp the team’s clubhouse. The A’s were also confident in Plouffe’s ability to handle third and provide plenty of offense.

Billy Beane and David Forst’s gamble on Plouffe did not pay off. Early struggles in April and May ultimately led to Plouffe’s exit from Oakland. The A’s designated Plouffe for assignment in June and opened the door for Chapman.

Plouffe’s exit signaled a new direction from the A’s. Shortly after Plouffe’s exit, the A’s parted ways with fan favorite, Stephen Vogt.

The team’s youth movement soon washed over the clubhouse and Chapman’s arrival is evidence of the A’s rebuilding efforts.

Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics /

Oakland Athletics

Since debuting in June, the A’s slugging third baseman has slashed .225/.298/.505 with 7 HR and 17 RBI. Chapman has faced his share of struggles this year, but he has been on a recent power surge.

Chapman collected six home runs in 83 at-bats during the month of July. Overall, he hit just .193 in July, but is showing more life recently.

Over his last 26 at-bats, Chapman is hitting .308 with five RBI. Solid production on offense will be the key for Chapman over the two months of the season.

Chapman has good raw power potential, but his plate discipline will need to improve. Through 31 games this year, Chapman currently owns a strikeout rate of 31.7%. Chapman will need to cut down on his strikeouts if he has any shot of becoming a future centerpiece for the A’s.

Beane’s Patience Will Be Key

Perhaps the most important piece to Chapman’s development will be Billy Beane’s willingness to remain patient during the A’s rebuild. Beane has made plenty of questionable trades throughout his career, including the Josh Donaldson deal in 2014.

Donaldson, a rising star, was dealt in a trade with the Blue Jays. The A’s received a package of players including Brett Lawrie and Franklin Barreto. Lawrie was flipped the following year in a deal with the White Sox.

Barreto remains with the A’s and is currently ranked as the team’s best prospect. Along with Chapman, Barreto figures to be in A’s plans for the future. The young core of Chapman, Barreto among others is one the A’s wish to build around moving forward.

Beane has made it clear that the A’s intend on remaining patient with this core. He will need to remain disciplined and show great patience with this rebuilding process. In the past, the A’s have had difficulty with committing to similar cycles.

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Remember Carlos Gonzalez? The A’s never really allowed Gonzalez to develop and shipped him off to Colorado in the Matt Holliday deal. Holliday lasted only half a season with Oakland and Gonzalez ended up turning into a perennial All-Star with the Rockies.

Chapman has raw power, great athleticism and a tremendous arm. Defensively, the A’s should feel confident in Chapman’s abilities to anchor the hot corner. A few Gold Glove Awards could be in his future.

The A’s will need to do their part, however, in helping Chapman develop into the perennial Gold Glover many expect him to be. Patience will be key for Chapman and the A’s.

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