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The season that was: Matt Chapman

A look at Matt Chapman’s 2023 season.

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game Two Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Matt Chapman was a trade pickup before the 2022 season. The Blue Jays sent Gunnar Hoglund, Kevin Smith, Zach Logue and Kirby Snead to Oakland (or, I guess Vegas via Oakland) for him.

Let’s have a quick look at those four:

  • Hoglund spent the season splitting time between A, A+ and AA. In total he made 16 starts with a 6.05 ERA. In 61.0 innings he allowed 67 hits, 9 home runs, 12 walks and 46 strikeouts (nice strikeout-to-walk ratio). He missed two months with a bicep injury.
  • Kevin Smith played 49 games for the A’s, hitting .185/.220/.326 with 5 home runs, with 5 walks and 51 strikeouts. He did great in 42 games at Triple-A, hitting .324/.372/.653 with 16 home runs.
  • Logue was lost to the Tigers off waivers.
  • Snead pitched in 15 games for the A’s. He had a 4.63 ERA in 11.2 innings, with 6 walks and 9 strikeouts. In Triple A he had a 8.10 ERA in 23.1 innings. He’s 29 now.

In Chapman’s first season with the Jays, he showed us that he had a great glove, and great arm, at third base. His bat wasn’t what we hoped for, but it is hard to complain about a 4.2 fWAR season.

We hoped that he could hit better this year. It didn’t happen:

Standard Batting
30 140 581 509 66 122 39 2 17 54 4 2 62 165 .240 .330 .424 .755 108 4 8 2 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/29/2023.

Baseball Reference has him at a 4.4 WAR. FanGraphs 3.5 giving him a value of $27.6 million to the Jays.

Matt had a .328 wOBA (much the same as last year) and a 110 wRC+ (down from 118).

His BABIP was .319 (.277 last year).

Matt’s walk rate was 10.7% (close to his 11.0 last year) and his strikeout rate was 28.4% (very slightly up from 27.4).

Soft contact was much the same (16.2% from 16.4). Hard contact was exactly the same (40.2%). He was eighth in the majors for hardball rate.

Chapman hit LHP (.307/.375/.424) much much better than RHP (.223/.320/.420). Last year he hit the same against both.

He hit better on the road (.254/.344/.435) than on at home (.223/.315/.412). Last year he was much better at home

And he hit better in the first half of the season (.259/.344/.463) than the second half (.205/.307/.357), also a switch from last year.

Chapman by month:

  • April: .384/.465/.687 with 5 home runs, 14 walks and 26 strikeouts in 27 games.
  • May: .202/.273/.312 with 2 home runs, 9 walks and 34 strikeouts in 28 games.
  • June: .200/.277/.356 with 3 home runs, 10 walks and 34 strikeouts in 25 games..
  • July: .247/.402/.506 with 4 home runs, 20 walks and 25 strikeouts in 24 games.
  • August: .197/.256/.276 with 1 home run, 5 walks and 29 strikeouts in 21 games.
  • September: ..167/.262/.370 with 2 home runs, 4 walks and 17 strikeouts in 15 games.

With runners in scoring position Matt hit .217/.321/.301. He had troubles in high leverage spots, hitting .173/.285/.236.

On defense? He is so much fun to watch play. UZR had him at a 4.1/150. Outs above average had him at a +5.

He made just 12 errors at third, 6 fielding, 6 throwing. His Fielding Average was .968 (the league average at third was .962.

He is a finalist for the Gold Glove, again.

Fangraphs had him at 3.1 runs above average as a base runner. He must have good instincts on the bases. He was 2 for 4 as a base stealer.

Baserunning? He was 2.2 runs above average on the bases. He had 4 steals, 2 times caught.

Matt’s spot in the batting order:

  • 2nd 2 times.
  • 4th 43 times.
  • 5th 63 times.
  • 6th 16 times.
  • 7th 13 times.
  • 8th 2 times.

The says were 77-62 in games he started.

His longest hitting streak was 10 games. Longest on base streak 19 games. Longest without a home run 29 games.

Favourite team to face? He hit .357/.550/.786 in 5 games.

Least favourith? Well he had a bad series against the Reds, .000/.071/.000.

Starting the season on hot stretch is always a good plan. Long after he was no longer hot we had people wanting him to hit in the cleanup spot.

In April, were told how he was going to be a very very rich man with free agency coming after the season. He will be a rich man, but maybe not the mega rich he would have been if he continued to hit the way he started the season (or anywhere close to it).

He’ll be 31 next year. I’m sure he’ll be looking for a long-term contract, 5ish years? And he’ll be looking for about $25 million a year, I would think. So there is the question, if it were up to you, would you give Chapman a 5-year, $125 million contract?

Personally, I would like to see the team make a spot for Orelvis Martinez and/or Addison Barger. I would like to see them give some of the young guys a real shot. I know teams with playoff ambitions tend to not want to give a spot in the lineup to a young, unproven player, but I wouldn’t mind saving money at third base and using it for a power hitting outfielder. Then, I tend to think teams should over pay for offense, and under pay for defense, because we can quantify offense better than defense.

But I wouldn’t complain much if the Jays did sign Chapman.


If it were up to you, would you give Matt Chapman a 5-year, $125 million contract?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    (46 votes)
  • 86%
    (300 votes)
346 votes total Vote Now

Like I said, I love watching him play defense, but everytime he made an error, someone would tell me he was over-rated with the glove. 3B’s make errors. It is a long throw that has to be made quickly. Sometimes it will be a bit off-line. But Chapman, generally, seems to make good decisions on the field.

I don’t know why a number of our guys didn’t hit well at home. I expected a boost in home run numbers and we didn’t see it.

And I don’t understand why, for the second season in a row, Chapman was near the top of the league in hard contact but that didn’t translate to good numbers with the bat.

Before the season we asked:

  • If the over/under on Chapman’s home runs was 26 I’d take the... Only 23% were right.
  • Who was the best defensive 3B in team history? Chapman won the poll with 42% of the vote (Scott Rolen came in second at 32%).
  • If the over/under on Chapman’s bWAR is 4.0 I’d take the... 60% were right saying over. Of course his fWAR was under 4.0.

If Chapman’s time with the Jays is over, I think we can say the trade was a win. A 7.9 bWAR is pretty great over two years (he is tied for 44th for bWAR among position players).