The next infielder in our 2023 season preview series is third baseman Matt Chapman.
Before we dive in, here's a refresher on the projection systems we're going to be taking a look at.
STEAMER: 625 PA, 120 H, 27 HR, 80 RBI, .221/.313/.422, 111 wRC+, 3.5 WAR
ZiPS: 614 PA, 125 H, 30 HR, 85 RBI, .236/.331/.462, 118 OPS+, 4.3 WAR
2022: 621 PA, 123 H, 27 HR, 76 RBI, .229/.324/.433, 117 wRC+, 115 OPS+, 4.1 WAR
Chapman, 29, is entering the second year of his two-year deal with the Jays. While the projection systems don't foresee a crazy departure from his 2022 numbers and think he'll be an above-average offensive player again, ZiPS is a little more optimistic that he can increase his production across the board.
ZiPS predicts that Chapman will pick up where he left off last season, again hitting for power and adding three more home runs and nine more runs driven in. That outcome is entirely possible when you look at who he'll be hitting behind in a stacked Blue Jays lineup. Roster Resource currently projects him to hit sixth in what looks like a deep bottom half of the Jays' batting order.
Chapman's Statcast sliders from 2022 tell the story of a hitter with all kinds of power who struggled to maintain his batting average and keep strikeouts down. If the projections are correct, these sliders will probably look similar in 2023.
In 2022, Chapman ranked in the 93rd percentile in Average Exit Velocity, 87th percentile in Max Exit Velocity and 97th percentile in HardHit%. Both Steamer and ZiPS think Chapman will continue to strike out at a high rate, with 182 and 171, respectively, so his xBA, K% and Whiff% sliders will most likely remain blue.
Avg Exit Velocity
Max Exit Velocity
While Steamer thinks Chapman's overall offensive value will dip slightly, the system does predict that the sure-handed third baseman will improve his 2022 defensive value of 4.6 to 5.5 in 2023. This projection ranks him second among third basemen, behind only Nolan Arenado in St. Louis.
If you have somehow forgotten how impressive Chapman's defense looks, here are over two minutes of silky-smooth defensive gems from the Jays' third baseman, courtesy of Chris Black at Sportsnet.
In the end, Chapman should prove to be the same solid everyday player at third base in 2023. With his offensive profile, he'll bring plenty of power to the bottom half of the reworked and much deeper lineup. And his usual stellar defense at the hot corner will be a comforting and welcome sight for Jays fans and pitchers alike.