As we round the corner to another MLB season, plenty of prolific player duos are headlining tantalizing teams, aiming to land upon baseball's biggest stage come October.
That includes A's corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, but that should hardly come as a surprise.
Now, there's a couple things to note here. The rankings are done by wins above replacement projections, so player accolades and personal chemistry doesn't apply in this list. Also, despite their stellar defensive abilities and offensive prowess, Chapman is returning from season-ending hip surgery and Olson had an uncharacteristic down year in the truncated 2020 season.
Still, 10th-best is pretty low, especially when the duo wields two Gold Glove awards apiece, while Chapman has two Platinum Gloves to boot.
Even after a forgettable season last year in which he hit .195, Olson barreled the ball when he made contact, ripping 15 home runs and plating 42 runs after appearing in all 60 games for the A's. His projected WAR for 2021 stands at 3.1, while Chapman, who should be a go come spring training, projects at 4.9 WAR. They project for 8.0 WAR as a tandem, slotting in just below the New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (4.3) and D.J. LeMahieu (3.8) at 8.1 total.
"Third baseman Chapman and first baseman Olson won the Gold Glove at their respective positions in both 2018 and ’19 (Chapman’s hip injury prevented him from winning the honor again in ’20, and Olson was, frankly, snubbed)," MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince wrote. "This is in addition to what they can provide offensively. Chapman has an .851 OPS over the past three seasons, and Olson has 103 homers in 419 games in the bigs."
With a healthy Chapman and an Olson that resembles the 2019 version (who posted an .896 OPS and garnered 21 MVP votes), it's entirely plausible the value of the twosome rises, although it surely will be tough to crack the top three. The San Diego Padres' left side of the infield in Fernando Tatis Jr. (5.9) and Manny Machado (4.6) are listed third, with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielders Mookie Betts (5.7) and Cody Bellinger (5.6) ranking second. The Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout (7.1) and Anthony Rendon (5.3) currently sit at the top of the projections.
Regardless, Oakland has had some truly special talent on the corners over the past few seasons, and both players have played instrumental roles in the A's three straight playoff berths. Should Oakland want to make it four this year, the A's will need their prized duo to perform accordingly.