Matt Chapman’s always one to raise the bar. His personal and team goals continue to elevate, even after the A’s won 97 games, he hit 36 home runs and added another platinum glove.
Those achievements are awesome in a vacuum, though losing in the A.L. wild-card game (again) and a late-season offensive slump shows room for improvement for the stacked A’s and their All-Star third baseman.
Putting it all together could mean a World Series title and an MVP award, or an offensive season for the ages at the very least.
That last part, of course, assumes a 162-game season. Numbers don’t mean the same thing in a 60-game season. Chapman, therefore, has to look at his stat line differently.
“The main goal is to stay healthy, stay on the field and then just take good at bats and do my part,” Chapman said. “I’m not going to put too much stress on the season because two months is such a small sample size. If you don’t start well, your numbers are never going to be what you want them to be. I’m hopefully not going to dig into that too much. I know that’s easy to say now, but I want to focus on the team and keep guys healthy. Hopefully we can do that and just win. Our focus should be health and making the playoffs.”
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Collectively, the A’s are focusing on winning as many games as possible in a condensed season where every game is magnified.
“I think that, from a team standpoint, the goals are still the same: win as much as we can and stress getting off to a good start,” Chapman said. “That’s extremely important now. That was our focus coming out of the spring training beforehand, but that especially key now. You can win and lose a season in two weeks it seems like, in this short schedule. You can’t fall too far behind. On the other side of it, you could also jump out to a good lead. It’s exciting because it seems like every game is going to be a playoff game.”
Chapman doesn’t have much time to ramp for this condensed 60-game season, which is now two weeks away. He has voiced displeasure over the A’s inability to start workouts at the earliest possible date, but is now focused on maximizing opportunities he has. That doesn’t mean he’s working too hard, as he and the A’s position players might have when they were finally allowed to start camp.
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It’s about working smarter in the time allotted.
“The biggest thing for me is getting quality reps and not worrying about the quantity so much and trying to play catch-up,” Chapman said. “I don’t need a million swings to get ready. I need quality swings and to avoid tiring yourself out because, when it does start, it’ll be a sprint. You can’t jam a ton into every day. We have to be smart and, right around that two-week mark [of camp], we’ll be in a good spot.”