Oakland Athletics: Matt Chapman Flashing Gold Glove Potential

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Matt Chapman
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Matt Chapman /

This season, A’s rookie Matt Chapman has made a number of remarkable plays at third base. But where does he stack up defensively among the position’s elite?

Since his call up in mid-June, Matt Chapman has shown potential to be a future superstar. Although he’s hitting only .233, the 24-year-old has clobbered 9 HRs and 16 two-baggers. In doing so, the rookie boasts an OPS of .793 and a wRC+ of 110, both marks above league average.

More impressive is that Chappy is already closing in on 3.0 WAR this season despite only appearing in 51 games. What’s interesting about this fact is that only 0.9 WAR have come courtesy of his bat.

That leaves a whopping 2.0 WAR that Chapman has earned on the fielding side of things.

To put that in perspective, baseball’s best fielding third baseman, Nolan Arenado, has only 2.2 dWAR this entire season.

Though the four-time Gold Glover significantly helps the Rockies limit damage in the hitter’s paradise that is Coor’s Field, Chapman has done more for his club on a per-game basis. Appearing in only 51 games, the A’s third baseman owns 18 DRS compared to Arenado’s 19 in 126 games.

Also to be noted is that Chappy could legitimately lead all third basemen in defensive WAR upon season’s end, despite only playing half of the 2017 season in the Bigs.

Freak or Fluke?

Contrary to hitting, it’s hard to be a fluke defensively. Most of the value from defensive WAR comes from a fielder’s ability to get to balls others cannot reach, as opposed to converting routine plays at a higher rate than other fielders at the same position.

That said, the A’s rookie certainly has one factor going his way.

Chapman’s club plays half their games in the O.co Coliseum. A pitcher’s ballpark, what separates the A’s home diamond from most Major League facilities is its absurd amount of foul territory. Balls that are normally ten rows in the seats stay in play, leading to more putouts for speedy corner infielders.

Much like former A’s third baseman Eric Chavez, Chapman has the means to make these plays. His combination of quickness and hustle allow him to snag balls at the Coliseum that would be caught by fans at other ballparks.

After that, his fielding success is largely a result of physical gifts.

Chapman owns a cannon of an arm, which gives him an extra time window to make the throw to first. On balls hit down the left field line, provided he keeps his footing, the A’s rookie doesn’t have to rush to make a throw like other third basemen.

Lastly, he has the instincts. As evidenced by his diving, spinning throws from his knees, Chapman’s footwork is unrivaled. He knows what to do to get the ball from point A to point B in a timely manner.

Bottom Line:

Matt Chapman is a fielding wizard. His range, arm, and instincts have made him a run-saving machine for the A’s on defense this season. With the Coliseum’s vast amount of foul territory, he should be making web gems in Oakland for years to come.