Defense is an often-overlooked aspect of baseball, but it can make a huge difference in the outcome of games and the success of teams. One player who has gained widespread recognition for his defensive skills is Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics.
Chapman, a third baseman, is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in baseball, and his reputation is supported by a range of statistical measures.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at just how good Matt Chapman’s defense really is, exploring his defensive statistics, the skills that make him such a standout defender, and the context in which he performs.
Whether you’re a dedicated baseball fan or simply interested in learning more about the sport, understanding the importance of defense and the exceptional abilities of players like Matt Chapman is essential.
Metrics Used to Evaluate Defense in Baseball
When evaluating a player’s defensive performance in baseball, there are several metrics that analysts use to measure their effectiveness. Here are a few of the most commonly used metrics:
Ultimate Zone Rating (Uzr)
UZR is a metric that estimates a player’s defensive value by comparing the number of runs they save with their defensive plays to the number of runs an average player at their position would save with the same number of defensive plays.
UZR takes into account factors such as the difficulty of the play, the location of the batted ball, and the fielder’s range and arm strength.
A positive UZR indicates that a player is making more defensive plays than an average player at their position would, while a negative UZR indicates the opposite.
Defensive Runs Saved (Drs)
DRS is a metric that measures how many runs a player has saved or cost their team compared to an average player at their position. DRS is calculated based on the number of plays a player makes and their success rate at converting those plays into outs.
A positive DRS indicates that a player has saved more runs than an average player at their position, while a negative DRS indicates the opposite.
Outs Above Average (Oaa)
OAA is a relatively new defensive metric that was introduced by Statcast in 2019. OAA is similar to UZR in that it estimates a player’s defensive value by comparing the number of plays they make to the number of plays an average player at their position would make.
However, OAA is calculated using a more granular level of data, taking into account the speed and trajectory of the batted ball, as well as the fielder’s position, reaction time, and route efficiency.
A positive OAA indicates that a player has made more plays than an average player at their position would, while a negative OAA indicates the opposite.
Overall, these defensive metrics provide a way to quantify a player’s defensive value and compare their performance to other players at their position. While no single metric is perfect, analyzing multiple metrics can give a more complete picture of a player’s defensive abilities.
Matt Chapman’s Defensive Statistics
Matt Chapman’s defensive statistics demonstrate his elite abilities as a third baseman. Here are some of the key defensive statistics for Chapman:
Outs Above Average (Oaa)
As mentioned in the prompt, Chapman’s OAA is currently in the 81st percentile, indicating that he is making more plays than 81% of other third basemen.
While this is slightly lower than his previous two seasons, in which he ranked in the 98th percentile or higher, it is still an impressive accomplishment.
Defensive Runs Saved (Drs)
Chapman has consistently ranked among the league leaders in DRS since his debut in 2017. In his first full season in the majors, he led all third basemen with 19 DRS.
In 2018, he led all players at any position with 29 DRS, and in 2019, he ranked third among all third basemen with 14 DRS. In 2020, he had 7 DRS in just 37 games played.
Range Factor (Rf)
Range Factor measures a player’s range by calculating the number of plays they make per nine innings. In 2020, Chapman led all American League third basemen with a Range Factor of 2.85, indicating that he was making more plays than any other third baseman in the league.
Overall, these statistics paint a picture of a player who consistently ranks among the best defensive third basemen in the league. While his OAA may have dipped slightly this season, his track record of elite defensive performance is hard to dispute.
What Makes Matt Chapman a Great Defender
Matt Chapman’s exceptional defensive abilities are due to a combination of factors, including his range, arm strength, and ability to make difficult plays. Here are some specific skills that make Chapman such a standout defender:
Chapman is known for his exceptional range, which allows him to make plays on balls that many third basemen would be unable to reach. This is reflected in his high OAA and DRS, which are largely a result of his ability to make plays that other players cannot.
Chapman’s range is due to his speed and quick reaction time, as well as his excellent footwork and positioning.
Chapman has one of the strongest arms in baseball, which allows him to make plays from deep in the hole or off-balance. His arm strength is also a valuable asset on routine plays, as he is able to make strong and accurate throws across the diamond.
Chapman’s arm strength allows him to play deeper at third base than many other players, giving him even more range.
Ability to Make Difficult Plays
Chapman is not only able to make routine plays, but he also has a knack for making difficult plays look easy. Whether it’s making a diving stop, ranging far to his left or right, or making a barehanded play, Chapman has the ability to make plays that leave fans and analysts in awe.
This is reflected in his high DRS, which measures the number of plays he has made above what an average player at his position would be expected to make.
Overall, Chapman’s defensive skills and abilities combine to make him one of the best third basemen in baseball. His range, arm strength, and ability to make difficult plays all contribute to his elite defensive performance.
Contextualizing Chapman’s Defense
When evaluating Chapman’s defensive performance, it is important to consider how he compares to other third basemen in the league.
According to the defensive metrics discussed earlier, Chapman consistently ranks among the best third basemen in the league, with his high DRS and OAA indicating that he is making more plays than most other players at his position.
Additionally, his Range Factor has been among the highest at his position in recent years, further highlighting his defensive prowess.
Chapman’s defensive skills are a significant contributor to his overall value as a player. While he is also a capable offensive player, his defensive contributions have been particularly valuable to the Oakland Athletics.
In addition to the aforementioned defensive metrics, Chapman’s defensive contributions can be seen in his ability to prevent runs.
By making more plays and preventing baserunners from advancing, Chapman has a tangible impact on the number of runs the Athletics give up over the course of a season.
Furthermore, Chapman’s defensive abilities allow him to impact the game in ways that extend beyond the statistics.
For example, his range and arm strength can discourage opposing baserunners from attempting to advance or take extra bases, which can have an impact on the outcome of games.
Similarly, his ability to make difficult plays can inspire and energize his teammates, contributing to team morale and cohesion.
Overall, Chapman’s elite defensive skills set him apart from most other third basemen in the league and contribute significantly to his overall value as a player.
Matt Chapman’s Defensive Metrics (2018-2021)
|Defensive Runs Saved
|Outs Above Average
|Range Factor/9 Inn
This table compares some of Matt Chapman’s key defensive metrics over the past four seasons.
The table shows how Chapman has consistently ranked among the league leaders in defensive runs saved (DRS) and outs above average (OAA), indicating that he is making more plays than most other players at his position.
Additionally, the table shows how his Range Factor/9 Inn has remained high, indicating that he has good range and is able to get to balls that other players might not.
Finally, the table shows how his fielding percentage has improved over time, and how he has reduced the number of errors he makes each season.
Overall, this table provides a quick snapshot of Chapman’s defensive performance over the past few seasons and illustrates his consistent excellence in the field.
How does Chapman’s defensive performance compare to other third basemen in history?
While it’s difficult to make direct comparisons across eras, Chapman’s defensive performance is certainly among the best of his time. He has consistently ranked among the league leaders in DRS and other defensive metrics, and his ability to make difficult plays and prevent runs is a major asset to his team.
How has Chapman’s defense evolved over time?
While Chapman has always been known for his defensive abilities, he has also continued to improve and evolve over time. For example, in his first full season in the majors, he struggled with errors and made only one OAA. However, he bounced back in subsequent years, consistently posting high OAA and DRS numbers.
Does Chapman’s defense have any weaknesses?
While Chapman is widely regarded as one of the best defensive third basemen in the league, there are a few areas where he could potentially improve. For example, he has occasionally struggled with throwing accuracy on routine plays, leading to errors and extra baserunners. Additionally, some analysts have suggested that he could be more consistent in his footwork and positioning.
How does Chapman’s defense impact his contract and trade value?
Chapman’s defensive abilities are a major factor in his value as a player, both in terms of his contract negotiations and his potential trade value. Teams that prioritize defense are likely to place a high value on Chapman’s skills, and he has been rumored as a potential trade target for teams seeking a top-tier third baseman.
How does Chapman’s defense impact his team’s strategy and success?
Chapman’s defense has a major impact on his team’s strategy and success, particularly in terms of preventing runs and limiting opponents’ opportunities. With a strong defensive player like Chapman on the field, the Athletics can afford to take more risks on offense and rely on their pitching staff to keep games close. Additionally, Chapman’s defensive contributions can help to energize his teammates and create a more cohesive team culture.
Matt Chapman’s defensive abilities are a major asset to the Oakland Athletics and a significant factor in his success as a player. Through his exceptional range, arm strength, and ability to make difficult plays, Chapman consistently ranks among the best defensive third basemen in the league.
His defensive contributions are evident in his high OAA, DRS, and Range Factor, as well as in his ability to prevent runs and impact games in ways that go beyond the statistics.
As such, Chapman’s defense is a crucial component of his overall value as a player and a key factor in the Athletics’ success.