Matt Chapman has been dominant both offensively and defensively for Toronto. When Toronto acquired him a year ago, it came with mixed results. Now, his recent surge is what the Blue Jays need. Even though the Toronto Blue Jays leave Kansas City with mixed results at the three-quarter mark of their 10-game road trip, they are starting to find their groove. Toronto is slowly gaining consistency as they head to Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels. However, one of their most consistent players has been Chapman himself.
Matt Chapman currently has a 1.369 OPS pic.twitter.com/Wcjc7fgDP3
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 6, 2023
Matt Chapman 2023 So Far
Not A Great Opener
Coming out of Spring Training, Chapman’s numbers offensively were underwhelming. In 18 games, he hit .196/.255/.283 with just five RBI. Looking at his past seasons, Chapman is usually known to have a mediocre start to the season. Last year through six games with Toronto, he hit .190 with one home run and four RBI. After six games in 2021, Chapman hit .105 with just two hits to his name. Even starting the season in 2020, Chapman hit .261 with one home run and three RBI. So it’s safe to say that it is shocking that after six games this season, he’s currently leading the American League with a .522 average, 12 hits, and five doubles. The 29-year-old is off to one of the best starts in franchise history.
A significant change to Matt Chapman’s game in 2023 has been an improved plate discipline. Looking at his career numbers, he is swinging at the first pitch (24%) less than in his career (26.3%). Chapman has been swinging at more pitches in the zone (69.4%) than last year (64.2%) and has a lower whiff percentage (17.8%) compared to his career average (24.7%). Like many other players, he has benefited from the reduction in defensive shifts. In 2022, the right-hander was the defense shift about twenty percent of the time, which cost saw his average batting drop below 38 points than with no shift. As someone who has many hits go between shortstop and second base, having just one fielder in that position has seen more hits go up the middle.
Doubles by Matt Chapman,
his first 7 games of the season:
2017 – 1
2018 – 1
2019 – 2
2020 – 1
2021 – 0
2022 – 1
2023 – 6 😮 pic.twitter.com/1CI6Iac7gn
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 6, 2023
Eye on the Ball
However, the most significant change to Chapman’s offense in 2023 has been his ability to hit the fastball. According to Baseball Savant, Matt Chapman struggled to hit the four-seam fastball. In 2022, the four-seam fastball accosted Chapman to have a run value of negative eight. However, in the past couple of games, Chapman has a run value of positive two, a difference of ten runs. That’s quite impressive for someone who has yet to hit a home run this season.
The Toronto Blue Jays are a team that is known for their offense. Although they have prominent hitters like George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Chapman has been a pleasant surprise to start the season. Ultimately, this will not last for the rest of the season. Yet, going into a contract year, Chapman can carry this momentum and patience at the plate potentially into another all-star season. After an off-year last season, this incredible start can make dividends from now on, proving Toronto’s depth is beyond their superstars.
Photo Credit: © William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports