I’m sure at this point in time Jays fans are well aware of all the positive aspects that come with acquiring Matt Chapman. The California native is just 28 years old, with two seasons of arbitration remaining before he hits the open market, and is one of the premier defenders in all of baseball, racking up two platinum glove awards during his time in the Bay area. The Blue Jays know that in Chapman, they’re getting a defensive upgrade at third base that will help stabilize what was an underwhelming infield last season.
The Fullerton product’s offensive value is murkier though and has a much wider range of outcomes than his defensive play. Chapman’s inconsistent offensive production is definitely a red flag when evaluating this trade, however, due to a friendly change of scenery and the immense amount of power the former All-Star possesses, I believe Chapman’s best days at the plate are ahead of him and that his bat has a chance to out produce his glove during his tenure in Toronto.
Throughout his career, Matt Chapman has proven to be a true outcome hitter. The three true outcomes in baseball are a walk, strikeout, and home run. In 2021, 49.6 percent of Chapman’s plate appearances resulted in one of those three outcomes. This is an insanely high rate, and though it’s above his career norm of 37 percent, it still illustrates the kind of hitter he has become during his first five seasons at the big league level.
Matt Chapman was a quality offensive player during his time in Oakland. A move to the Blue Jays could be just what he needs to reach his offensive ceiling.
Chapman has legitimate power, as shown by the number of true outcomes he’s produced. His career average exit velocity sits just shy of 92 miles per hour, nearly four clicks above the Major League average. Along with this, the California native has been able to generate hard contact on 45.8 percent of balls he puts in play, well above the league average, which is a mere 35.4 percent.
Chapman’s ability to drive the ball has led to some very productive seasons in the power department, blasting at least 20 home runs in all three of his full seasons in the big leagues (he hit 10 in the shortened 2020 season but was on pace for 40), while posting a slugging percentage north of .500 in three seasons as well.
To go along with his incredible power, Chapman also has a very disciplined approach at the plate. This may come as a bit of a surprise, due to the high strikeout numbers he has consistently posted. Over the course of his career, the former All-Star has proven to be a very patient hitter, highlighted by both finishing 14th in walks across the Major Leagues last season, as well as his career 10.5 percent walk rate.
The swing and miss will always be something that Chapman is plagued by. He’s been amongst the league leaders in both strikeout percentage and WHIFF rate over the past two seasons. Despite this, Chapman was still able to hit a high volume of home runs in RingCentral Coliseum, one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in all of baseball.
A move to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre and the AL East could lead to a massive boost in his already impressive power production. Add his above-average plate discipline into the mix, and I believe that Matt Chapman has the possibility to excel offensively, and fit right in with the other dangerous bats in the Blue Jays lineup.
The Josh Donaldson comparison is thrown around a lot in terms of what people hope Chapman can be. Though it is a bit of a cliche, there is some validity to it. Prior to arriving in Toronto, Donaldson had a career slash line of .268/.347/.457 and was worth 7.2 wins during his best season in terms of WAR (Chapman has surpassed that total twice).
While those numbers are solid, they were nowhere near what Donaldson posted during his first two seasons in Toronto and are eerily similar to what Chapman has done thus far in his career. Now, I’m not saying that Chapman is going to win an MVP award next season but if the former first-round pick can continue to drive the ball at a high rate and constantly draw walks, I believe his offensive numbers could skyrocket, just like Donaldson’s did when he joined the Jays seven years ago.
I’ve been campaigning for Chapman to be a member of this squad for a while now, and personally, I am thrilled to see that a deal finally got done. At the bare minimum, the Blue Jays are getting one of the premier defenders in all of baseball. Moving to a more hitter-friendly ballpark and division could spell big things for Chapman, and this Blue Jays team.