The Toronto Blue Jays traded for Matt Chapman’s glove, but they would love his bat to return to its dangerous ways
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The Toronto Blue Jays answered my long and loud prayers by trading for Matt Chapman before the start of the 2022 season. Realistically, they were dealing for his elite defensive abilities at the hot corner. There was probably some hope that him going to his left would also help Bo Bichette with his. But, even if that has nothing to do with it, Chapman’s glove is worth it. As well, he has shown some very good offensive production in the past. If a move to the AL East could bring him back to that, it would be a boon for Toronto.
The issue is that Chapman had been dealing with a hip injury that caused him issues over the last few years. So, when he hit a couple dingers during the spring, there was reason to be hopeful. But, his start to the season didn’t exactly provide immediate returns. He struggled to the tune of a .225 average and a .287 OBP. He did hit 4 homers in April, but the overall numbers, even though they resulted in a 103 wRC+, weren’t exactly signs that he was about to return to his former self.
May was even worse for the 29 yr old who signed an extension with Toronto. He put up a wRC+ of just 70 with only 2 home runs. With his OBP still well below .300, he was also seeing a decrease in his power as reflected in a .113 ISO, which was down from the already low .200. At a time when the entire offense was struggling, Chapman’s poor showing certainly didn’t stand out as a glaring issue. However, with a struggling offense, it sure would have been nice to see him contribute (not that he is the only one responsible for production).
With the calendar flipping to June, there are some signs of things looking up for Chapman.
According to his MLB page, he has at least one hit in each of his last three games and is seeing his numbers climb. He has 6 hits in 7 games, scoring 5 runs and walking 4 times. His OBP over that span is .357. If you expand the sample to his last 15 games, Chapman has 11 hits, 7 walks and has scored 8 times. While his batting average is not exactly Hall of Fame worthy, he has improved his ability to get on base, which is something the whole lineup needs to improve upon. Over those 15 games, he has just one home run, but everyone in baseball will tell you that the power will come if your approach, etc at the plate is good.
Overall, Chapman’s numbers for the season still look…not great. His .200/.297/.356 line and his wRC+ of 86 are not going to excite many fans. But, there is reason to be optimistic that there is more improvement ahead. His xBA is .248, his xSLG is .494 and his xwOBA is .359. These numbers are all well above those previously mentioned metrics. If you’re wondering why that means anything, check out the definition of xBA from MLB: “Expected Batting Average is more indicative of a player’s skill than regular batting average, as xBA removes defense from the equation. Hitters, and likewise pitchers, are able to influence exit velocity and launch angle but have no control over what happens to a batted ball once it is put into play.”
So, if you’re looking for a real sign of hope regarding Matt Chapman, you should look to his expected stats. Obviously, the more traditional baseball fans will say that expected stats are just that: expected, not what has actually happened. And, to some extent that is true. However, if expected stats say that Chapman is not hitting as poorly as other numbers would indicate, then perhaps there is reason to think the last week or so is a sign of things to come.
Just imagine if Chapman could even somewhat resemble his 2018 or 2019 self! Of course, that would be better if the rest of the lineup could also turn things around, which looks to be possible given their recent play. Sure, it’s a small sample, but Chapman is starting to improve at the plate, so is the rest of the team. Perhaps, we’re seeing the start of what we expected from the beginning of the season. Perhaps, Chapman and the rest of the team are showing their May isn’t the real them. Time will tell.
*Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.