3 Blue Jays players who will maintain their hot starts and 1 who won't
Will he maintain his start? Yes
Matt Chapman came into 2023 with a plan, and so far, it's working. Fans thought they knew what they would get from the soon-to-be 30-year-old, with expectations set for another 25-30 home runs, a bunch of strikeouts and a low batting average.
In a surprising turn of events, Chapman has started his campaign, a contract year no less, off with a bang. Through 17 games, he's hitting a ridiculous .415/.472/.785 with five home runs, 17 RBI, 13 runs scored and a 252 wRC+.
His average exit velocity is sitting at 97.5 mph, which puts him first in the majors among qualified hitters. He's barreling the ball at a 32% rate, well clear of his 12% career mark, and his hard-hit rate is way up at 68%.
His Statcast page is a sea of red. He's in the top 1% of the league in multiple categories, from the previously mentioned average exit velocity to his hard hit rate, barrel rate, expected wOBA and expected slugging percentage. Even his expected batting average sits in the 99th percentile while his max exit velocity is in the 94th percentile.
Chapman's taking a page from Bichette's opposite field-heavy approach. He's focusing less on pulling for power, which he did with almost half his batted balls last year. Instead, he's driving the ball all over the field. Both his center and opposite-field batted ball rates are up to start the year.
This approach has let him wait longer on pitches and helped keep his strikeout rate down to a below-league-average 20.8%, a reduction from last year's 27.4%. Check out this thread by Sportsnet's Chris Black for a video explanation of how this new approach works for Chapman.
Is Chapman going to maintain these otherworldly numbers all season? No, because baseball is hard, and better players than him haven't done anything like that.
However, if you look at his expected stats (.365 xBA, .815 xSLG and .517 xwOBA), his new approach at the plate suggests that he'll not only be a much tougher out this season, but he'll continue to be an elite level producer during what could turn out to be a career year across the board.