Athletics

Chapman details unique defensive approach, Arenado comparison

Athletics
  • Programming note: Watch the full "All A's" interview with Matt Chapman on Friday, Sept. 10 after "A's Postgame Live" at approximately 10 p.m. on NBC Sports California.

Being able to watch Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman take infield before a game should require an admission ticket itself.

The way he’s able to man the entire left side of the field combined with the vast amount of foul territory at the Coliseum, all while knowing first baseman Matt Olson will catch anything near him is impressive to watch.

Chapman, from the beginning of his career, was told by coaches to play as deep as he possibly could at third base. A seasoned defensive player would point out how unusual this might be.

“That is the case,” Chapman said on the latest episode of “All A’s.” “You want to play as deep as your arm will allow.”

Have you seen Chapman throw? He’s allowed to play extremely deep, but has made some alterations.

“Some situations will dictate otherwise, whether you think the guy’s going to bunt, or if it’s a double-play situation, or if some guy has beat me with a slow roller or something or I don’t think he’s going to hit it past me," Chapman said.

"Some of those things come into play, it’s nice having Olson over there because if I happen to airmail one, he’s super tall, he reaches up and grabs it, but if I throw it low, he digs it out too so, it’s always great having him over there.”

The two-time Platinum Glove Award winner said he has been playing with his depths a little bit with certain batters hitting some slow rollers that he wasn’t able to get outs on because he was playing so far back.

 

“It’s like that fine line of how deep can you play, and make the out on the routine out, but also you don’t want to give up a cheap hit,” Chapman added. “You’re always kind of moving around a little bit.”  

Whatever he’s doing, it’s working.

Naturally, Chapman’s involved in comparison talks with other third basemen, with the main one being Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The two could make a case for who is better between them both, but Chapman said back in January of 2020 he might have the edge defensively. His answer was a little different this time around.

“On the spot,” Chapman laughed.

Chapman currently leads MLB with 151 putouts at third base and is tied with Arenado with 241 assists at the position. His .987 fielding percentage leads the league.

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Arenado and Chapman are former teammates at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, so the answer tends to be more personal. But the two have one major thing in common: Their competitive nature. 

“It’s funny because everyone tries to ask you who’s better or who’s the best, I bet you if you ask a lot of other guys across the league, they’re the best, you kind of got to have that mentality if you want to go out there and be confident and successful every single day," Chapman said.

"I take the field like I’m the best third baseman in baseball every night. Regardless of how I’m feeling, but I go out there and I feel like I’m the best defensive third baseman every single time I go out there. I want the ball hit my way, and I know Nolan feels the same way.  I’ll leave it up to the critics to decide who’s better.”