Slusser on Matt Chapman

Posted by Jason Wojciechowski on March 25, 2017 at 7:51 PM

Susan Slusser's piece today has a lot of praise for Matt Chapman, including from Marcus Semien, Bob Melvin, and Trevor Plouffe. Some wild comparisons are bandied about (by the A's, not Slusser), though of course not in a "he's this good now" way. (Plouffe is specifically quoted with that caveat.) One of those comparisons is to Nolan Arenado, which is natural because they were high school teammates. What's interesting about the Arenado comp, though, is that the Rockies star was a bat-first player; sure, he was a high school shortstop, but what prospect infielder wasn't? His 2011 BP Annual comment referred to his defense as "solid"; in 2012 his glove was "nothing special"; then he hit the big leagues, where he's put up eye-popping defensive numbers in every metric, not to mention the eye test. (To be clear, this wasn't a BP blind spot: Baseball America in those years said he could move to first base due to a lack of athleticism and slow feet, and then, after he dropped 20 pounds, called his range "average.")

Chapman, by contrast, has the 98 mph arm and good feet, which he pairs with power potential and serious questions about his hit tool. A .300 ISO in Triple-A is cool and all, but if you're a .197 hitter at that level, you're not a big-leaguer. Obviously, 85 plate appearances of .197 hitting doesn't mean you're a .197 hitter, but the fact is that Chapman hasn't so far proven that he's going to make enough contact in the majors for his glove to play, even with the power.

I'm not saying he's not a good prospect, and we can't solely scout the stat line, but it's worth noting that there's still plenty of crash-and-burn possibility here.