Athletics

A's at their best when Olson, Chapman are hitting like this

Athletics
Chapman, Olson celebrate

The Athletics have been waiting all season long for Matt Chapman to start hitting to his capability.

It has taken more than two months, but Chapman looks like his old self. Over the last three games against the Kansas City Royals, all wins for the A's, Chapman has seven hits in 13 at-bats. During that span, he has three doubles, two homers and five RBI. Another promising sign is that he struck out just once.

And even better development for the A's is that Chapman is starting to heat up while Matt Olson is tearing the cover off the baseball.

While the A's are in first place in the AL West, they know they've been operating with suboptimal power. If Chapman can sustain this hot streak and carry it through the summer and into the fall, Oakland will be as dangerous as any team in baseball.

"When those guys are hitting, we've got a good chance to win games," manager Bob Melvin told reporters on a video conference call after the A's 6-3 win Sunday. "They're both terrific players, both offensively and defensively. They both have a lot of power which means it can be a run pretty quickly as Chappy showed his first at-bat. When guys are out, you're going to have injuries over the course of the year, other guys need to pick up the slack and we have had other guys doing that, but when these guys both are hitting and doing well at the same time, we feel better about ourselves because they are both premier players."

 

Olson has been putting up MVP-caliber numbers all season and added his team-leading 17th and 18th homers of the year Sunday, but Chapman has struggled to find a rhythm. In 55 games between April and May, the two-time Platinum Glove winner was hitting .203/.315/.341 with six doubles, five homers and 21 RBI. He had walked 31 times and struck out in 70 at-bats.

But since the calendar flipped to June, Chapman has shifted gears. In 11 games, he has 12 hits in 40 at-bats (.306 AVG), including three doubles, two homers and eight RBI.

"Right now, with Oly, you just think he's going to hit a homer every time up and I think for [Chapman] now, it's just a period where he's going through a little bit of a drought and now he's kind of doing things you expect him to do and he expects himself to do," Melvin said. "The last few games, they've been pretty profound in the wins, hitting one after the other and coming back after losing the first game of the series, winning three games, they were ignitors in all this."

Olson and Chapman have been teammates in the big leagues since 2017, and they have had plenty of streaks where both are hitting at the same time. This season, though, they haven't been on the same wavelength offensively, largely due to Chapman's struggles.

"We actually joke about it a pretty good bit that when one is hitting, the other one never does and it's nice to get a few games where we're both doing stuff," Olson told reporters after Sunday's game. "We obviously don't actually put weight into that, but it seems like it sometimes and it's definitely good to sync up a little bit."

Starter Chris Bassitt, who allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday and picked up his seventh win of the season, admitted the entire A's clubhouse knows about the running joke between Olson and Chapman.

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Bassitt also is aware that the combination of Olson and Chapman can carry the A's a long way if both are clicking at the same time.

"We all know about that. It's a running joke, no doubt, but any time you have Oly and Chappy going at the same time, I do not want to face this lineup, I'll tell you that," Bassitt said. "We are very blessed to have the corner infielders that we have. Both are world class, both are unbelievable, work hard as hell. It's no surprise what those guys do. It really isn't. Their greatness is just so boring, just because it's every day, 'All right, Chappy made a great play, Oly made a great play, Oly hit another home run,' and you look at their numbers, what they are putting up, and it's just like, there are very few people, if not, there's no one in the world that can do what they do. It's awesome to see and I'm very thankful to be their teammate and not going up against them, I'll tell you that."

 

Chapman and the A's knew it would take time for him to regain his form at the plate after he had season-ending hip surgery last year. Now that it looks like he has gotten things going, the A's might be able to take off and run away with the AL West.