ST LOUIS, MO – JUNE 26: Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics rounds third base after hitting a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on June 26, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Matt Chapman might be the most underrated player in baseball. As our friends over at The White Cleat Beat wrote last week, “He is a relatively anonymous star, a player whose accomplishments have been overshadowed by bigger names. While Chapman is easily one of the top third basemen in the game, his name rarely comes up in that conversation.”
Once again, let’s compare a third baseman to Nolan Arenado. First, Chapman is five years younger and arbitration-eligible for the first time after 2021. So he’s a lot younger and cheaper than his former high school teammate. In his seven-year career, Arenado has seven Gold Gloves and three Platinum Gloves. Somehow, Chapman is on pace to match him, with two Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves in his first two full seasons.
On the offensive side, Arenado has a much higher batting average, and almost twenty more home runs in the past two seasons. On the other hand, OPS+ favors Chapman (127 to 122), and there is always the Coors Field effect to consider. Arenado is more established, but as he ages into his 30s and Chapman enters his prime, it’s not unlikely that Chapman soon overtakes him at the plate.
The Cardinals and Athletics have a good relationship, with the Stephen Piscotty deal of 2017 and Matt Holliday trade in 2009 standing out from recent years. The A’s tend to sell high, too. It wasn’t that long ago that a young Oakland third baseman named Josh Donaldson was traded the season after making his first All-Star game.
The A’s are a competitive team, and Chapman is their young superstar. With projected revenue losses across the league and problems to come for Oakland to replace the Colosseum, however, they might be forced into a deal. If there is even the smallest chance that Matt Chapman’s name hits the trade market, the Cardinals should be at the front of the line.