Can Oakland A’s count on Matt Chapman for start of season?

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 5: Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics fields during the game against the San Diego Padres at RingCentral Coliseum on September 5, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Padres 8-4. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 5: Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics fields during the game against the San Diego Padres at RingCentral Coliseum on September 5, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Padres 8-4. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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The Oakland A’s should have Matt Chapman back for the start of the 2021 season, but will he be able to be the player he has been?

Matt Chapman has solidified himself as a cornerstone player for the Oakland A’s, a part of their core as they look to move forward. A Gold Glove caliber third baseman and solid power hitter, Chapman had become the type of player that any team would consider themselves fortunate to have on their roster.

However, the 2020 campaign was a complete disaster. The typically brilliant defensively third baseman struggled in the field, actually costing the A’s a run at the hot corner while having below average range. It was a far cry from the performance that made him a two time Platinum Glove winner.

Those struggles followed him to the batter’s box as well. Chapman posted a disappointing .232/.276/.535 batting line, his batting average and on base percentage the lowest of his major league career. While he still hit ten homers and nine doubles in his 152 plate appearances, Chapman only drew eight walks while striking out 54 times.

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Chapman also missed the end of the 2020 season due to surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. That injury could explain his uncharacteristic struggles in every facet of the game, particularly his final 11 plate appearances. After missing five days, Chapman returned to strike out ten times in that span before ending up on the shelf for the rest of the year.

His hip issues are why there are question marks at this point. While his surgery was successful, and he should be ready for the start of the season, it remains to be seen if Chapman will be the player he had been. Even if healthy and ready to go, it could take some time before we see the star third baseman that the A’s are accustomed to.

The A’s depth at third will be important in the early part of the year. Players such as Vimael Machin and Chad Pinder could have a larger role than had been anticipated. Chapman could need some time off early, especially as the A’s look to keep him healthy for the stretch run.

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Matt Chapman should be healthy for the start of the 2021 season. However, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be the player the Oakland A’s are used to seeing at the hot corner.

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