The Blue Jays missed the playoffs by just one game in 2021, and even with the playoffs expanding to 2022, they’re clearly determined not to let that happen again this year, signing Kevin Gausman ahead of the lockout. and now addressing their hot-corner void by sending four players to Oakland for third baseman Matt Chapman.
Toronto got less production from third base than any other position in 2021, playing far too much of Cavan Biggio there, so targeting Chapman answered his greatest offensive need and also allows him to strengthen his defense on the field.
Chapman had his worst year at the majors in 2021 and was still worth 3.5 wins above substitution, thanks to a consistently elite defense (his OAA was fourth-best at the majors among any position in 2021) and a combination of patience and power on the plate. He also finished second among the majors in strikeouts with 202, carrying over much of the surge in his strikeout rate we’ve seen over the pandemic year, and lost much of his quality of contact from previous years. There’s not a single gun to his downfall – he misses more off-speed stuff, hits fastballs less often, and makes fewer contacts in the zone and out. It struggled more with pitches that Statcast classified as sinkers than any other type of pitch, compared to its peak years, with nearly double the swing and miss rate and half the hard-hit rate he had in 2018-19. He just gave opposing pitchers too many ways to limit damage, and while it cut his value in half, it does provide opportunities for the Jays to try and restore that missing value, as he’s only 28 and showed no reason to believe. it is in irreversible decline, either. It’s also possible that the hip surgery he had in September 2020 will still affect him in 2021, although that’s just my own speculation.
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