What To Expect From Matt Chapman In 2019 And Beyond
Matt Chapman has had himself a heck of a sophomore season. Bucking traditional trends, he’s successfully avoided a second second-year slump and significantly upped his value. In a position that is heavy on top with a large gap to the second tier names Chapman, has jumped into the top tier of the third base position this year. But how long will he stay there?
In his rookie season, Chapman put up a .234/.313/.472 slashline with 14 homers in 84 games. Not a bad showing for a 24-year-old in his first cup of coffee. Along with a decent slash, Chapman worked a rather decent walk rate of 9.8% and an elevated K rate of 28.2%. His statcast numbers were incredibly impressive, posting an average exit velocity of 90MPH and an average launch angle of 20º. With a decent showing in his first taste of The Show and age on his side, Chapman came into this season as our 18th ranked third baseman.
Throughout the minors, Chapman’s calling cards were his defense and his power, putting both on display at every level. He would often use his raw talent to sell out for power, thereby posting an across-the-minors batting line of .244/.327/.517 and parking a high of 36 homers (in 135 games in 2016).
Chapman was shaping up to be the next Joey Gallo until this season, when he made a couple adjustments to elevate his game substantially. He has altered his approach to be more contact-driven. Chapman’s raw power allows the ball to carry over the fence whether he’s selling out for power or not, and changing his approach to focus on contact has allowed his overall state line to flourish.
The most significant difference in his stat line from last season to this season is his strikeout rate (down from 28.2% last season to 23.9% this season). He has made these gains by adjusting the type of contact he’s making.
Knowing his raw talent will carry the ball has allowed Chapman to put a decreased focus on hitting fly balls and take what contact he can with how he is being pitched. His line drive rate has increased and his ground ball rate has increased, indicating he has not been focused on his power. This is also evident in his statcast numbers: his average launch angle dropped from 20º to 15º this season and his average exit velocity increased to 93MPH. Through all of this Chapman has maintained his walk rate at 9.7% and posted a stellar slash of .282/.362/.523 with 23 homers.
Refining his approach is a tweak that is easily maintained, and with his raw power abilities, Chapman should be a mainstay at the top of the dynasty third base rankings for a while. Paired with his impressive defense there is no doubt he’ll remain with the eligibility going forward. Chapman produced well above his ranking this season and if you are fortunate enough have a share of him, enjoy it. It won’t be cheap to grab a share this offseason, but you will not be sorry when (and if) you do, because you’ll have a mid-twenties top-five third baseman to anchor your team for years to come.