Blue Jays: Matt Chapman ranks as the seventh-best third baseman per FanGraphs
With FanGraphs continuing to churn out its positional rankings for the 2023 season, the Toronto Blue Jays grab another top-10 spot, this time in the third base rankings.
If you missed it, we previously reviewed the power rankings for catcher, first base, second base and shortstop.
With a 4.7 WAR, Matt Chapman holds down the hot corner for the Blue Jays both on the field and in the rankings, claiming the seventh spot on the list.
The Blue Jays trail the Cardinals (5.9), Guardians (5.8), Astros (5.7), Padres (5.1), Braves (5.0) and Red Sox (5.0).
Chapman's 6.7 defensive projection is a significant part of his WAR. Of the top seven third basemen, the only player with a better defensive rating is the number one-ranked Nolan Arenado, with a score of 7.0. You have to go down to the 13th-ranked Pirates before you find a third baseman with a higher defensive projection (Ke'Bryan Hayes, 7.8).
As Davy Andrews points out, Chapman's 2022 WAR of 4.1 resulted from cutting "more than five points from his strikeout rate while pushing his hard-hit rate into elite territory." For those keeping score at home, his strikeout rate went from 32.5% to 27.4%, and his hard-hit rate of 40.2% put him second among third basemen last year.
2022 was the first season that his usually stellar defense finished just above average. Andrews explains, however, that the 29-year-old has a long history of superior defense that the projections take into account.
"It would be reasonable to think he's got a little more time as an elite defender — he still makes his share of unbelievable plays — but it's hard to argue when all of the major defensive metrics tell the same story. "- Davy Andrews, FanGraphs
It looks like Chapman's glove is in mid-season form so far this spring.
While Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal may occasionally fill in at third, Addison Barger is the most intriguing name on this list. The Jays' no. 2 prospect by FanGraphs' rankings has the arm for the hot corner and, with his ability at the plate, may get a look this season if injuries force the Jays to dig into their third base depth.