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Statcast #7: The all-around game of Matt Chapman

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays
Matt Chapman has turned things on as of late.
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Matt Chapman has long been one of my favorite players in Oakland’s organization. He has mastered two of the most aesthetically pleasing elements of the game: defense and dingers.

Chapman has been swinging the bat well recently. So well that I felt compelled to fire up the Statcast machine and make my observations public.

Chapman’s major league career has had its starts and stops. A few games after his call-up he was hospitalized. Upon his return he struggled mightily, racking up strikeouts like that was his primary function. Then he turned a corner with ferocity when he smacked two home runs off of former-AL Cy Young Corey Kluber. He hasn’t stopped punishing baseballs since then.

Chapman has hit five home runs this season, four of which were crushed. Let’s take a look at the data!

Chapman's Home Runs

Date Distance Exit Velocity Launch Angle
Date Distance Exit Velocity Launch Angle
7/24/17 435 104.5 24.677
7/23/17 362 97.9 37.836
7/22/17 412 108.1 34.858
7/15/17 455 109.8 22.566
7/15/17 409 102.8 22.83

This particular beauty came on Saturday against Zack Wheeler.

Matt Chapman's rocket home run illustrated by Statcast.

Once I started digging into the numbers I didn’t find quite what I was looking for. Chapman hits the ball hard and with regularity, which is good. Since he hit his first home run he has averaged a greater exit velocity than sluggers such as Corey Seager, Charlie Blackmon, Justin Upton, and Josh Donaldson. Emphasis on that last name.

However, he sits just 66th on the Statcast leaderboard for exit velocity in that timeframe, and ranks 3rd on the A’s behind Khris Davis and Ryon Healy.

Among third baseman with at least 25 batted-ball events since Chapman’s call-up he ranks 13th in average exit velocity, just ahead of Adrian Beltre and Todd Frazier.

It’s clear Chapman hasn’t reached the elite ranks of batted-ball data, despite posting elite isolated slugging numbers at nearly each stop in his career. Still, he is doing things with his bat that other quality major leaguers do, which is definitely a good sign.

Statcast on Defense

Alex Hall posted a review of Chapman’s defensive chops. The short version is that Chapman is as good as advertised at third base, if not better. I encourage you to read the long versions, though.

I wanted to see what Statcast had to say about the fine fielding plays Alex presented for us.

Matt Chapman's Stellar Defense

Dates Batter Batted Ball Type Result Hit Probability Exit Velocity Launch Angle
Dates Batter Batted Ball Type Result Hit Probability Exit Velocity Launch Angle
7/7/2017 Mike Zunino Line Drive Out 82% 108.5 MPH 9 deg.
7/9/2017 Nelson Cruz Ground Ball Out 8% 78.7 MPH -16 deg.
7/18/2017 Evan Longoria Ground Ball Out 52% 101.3 MPH 2 deg.
7/24/2017 Justin Smoak Line Drive Out 96% 71 MPH 22 deg.
7/24/2017 Troy Tulowitzki Ground Ball Double Play 29% 98.9 MPH -8 deg.

Statcast tracks catches made by outfielders and rates them on a 1-5 star scale. A 5-star catch is one made on a ball with a hit probability of 75% or greater. According to the data above Chapman has made the infield equivalent of two 5-star catches. Only 15 outfielders have made two or more 5-star catches.

Chapman has surely exhibited Gold Glove-caliber defense and others are taking notice.

One Last Thing

Statcast recently started tracking foot speed — who says baseball is too slow? Chapman is tied for the league lead with Kris Bryant in Spring Speed at 28.2 ft/second!

Now, that isn’t the type of statistic that usually excites me, but it is further proof that Chapman is a well rounded player.

His wRC+, buoyed by by a .507 slugging percentage, is 103 and the defensive metrics all point toward stardom. I'm looking forward to Chapman building on his success to this point and anchoring the Oakland infield for years to come.