I’ll get to talking about Chapman’s offence later, but if we’re going to focus on the good for a moment, then we’ve gotta start with the difference he’s making at third base.
The Blue Jays have had some decent third baseman over the years, and they had some legitimate stability there last season once Santiago Espinal took over more regular duties at the position.’ However, I can’t remember a time when any player has made a ground ball feel like an automatic out. Chapman is on another level at the hot corner, both with his ridiculously strong throwing arm, and the sheer range that he covers at the position.
There have already been several times that Chapman’s defensive impact has changed the game, including their narrow win against the Yankees on May 4th, and even last night with his heads up 5-4 double play against the Rays. It doesn’t even take a deep dive fancy stats, you just have to watch the difference he makes on the infield, and it doesn’t take a trained scout either to see that he more than passes the eye test.
It hasn’t translated as much as I’d like to see when it comes to Bo Bichette’s defensive play, but there’s no doubt that Chapman is having a positive influence on him as well, and that will continue for as long as the pair are teammates. Playing right next to an elite defender pushes you to be better, especially when you’re as competitive as young Bichette.
Infield defence hasn’t necessarily been a strength for the Blue Jays over the last few years, but having Matt Chapman around definitely changes things, especially with Santiago Espinal at second base as well. He may not end up being a middle-of-the-order type of slugger again in his career, but he doesn’t have to be in order to drastically change a game, and the Blue Jays’ fortunes.