It took a few months for him to get going, but A's third baseman Matt Chapman has finally started to put it together at the plate.
After undergoing season-ending hip surgery last September, Chapman got off to a rather slow start to begin the 2021 season.
Hitting just .201/.310/.321 going into the A's June 11th game against the Kansas City Royals, Chapman has gone on to hit safely in 16 straight games since and has raised his averages to .230/.324/.409 over that span.
Launching a solo home run in the first inning of the A's 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night, Chapman extended his streak in style and provided starting pitcher James Kaprielian with an offensive boost to begin the game.
“He’s been great, the guy has been working extremely hard, making adjustments and sticking to his routines," Kaprielian told reporters postgame. "Obviously, he has that [hitting streak] going now and he’s tearing it up. Anytime you can get a run in the first inning as a starting pitcher, it’s a good feeling knowing that you have those guys behind you putting that offense up.”
Sustaining a torn right hip labrum last season, the injury seems to have played a role in Chapman's slow start this year. A's manager Bob Melvin has noticed a change in the power the A's slugger has been able to generate with his hips.
“I think he’s just getting more comfortable with his hips and his mechanics," Melvin said postgame. "The ball is traveling a lot farther. At times his batting practices seem to be a lot better, he’s just building up strength and using his legs a little bit more.
"He’s got some hits in the last couple of weeks or so, and starting to drive the ball. It starts with his lower half, and we’re seeing a better lower half right now as the ball is traveling a little farther.”
Chapman, who has 11 homers and 42 RBI this season, has continued to produce, albeit with much less explosiveness.
Throughout his career, Chapman's average exit velocity (EV) has ranged anywhere from 90.9 to 94.5 mph. This season, though, that average has dropped down to 89.0 mph.
In addition to his average exit velocity, Chapman's hard hit rate (HardH%) has dropped to a less-than-stellar 39.7 percent, compared to season averages that range anywhere from 43.6 to 54.0 percent.
The health of a hitter's hips is crucial when it comes to generating hard contact, and it should be no surprise that Chapman's averages have taken a hit thus far as he continues to build strength in his hip post-injury.
Riding high on an impressive 16-game hitting streak while the A's are falling behind the Houston Astros in the division, Chapman's resurgence could not have come at a better time.