With pitcher James Kaprielian on the mound Friday, A’s third baseman Matt Chapman was his typical self and robbed Los Angeles Angels catcher Kurt Suzuki of a base hit.
Oakland has their defensive star back after he underwent season-ending hip surgery in 2020. But the noteworthy defense doesn’t stop with Chapman.
“That’s a Platinum Glove-making MVP player right there,” Kaprielian said after his two-inning outing in the 7-3 loss. “I’ve had a chance to watch Chapman since we were in high school in Orange County. We got to play against Chappy and talk a little smack with him while we were in college. You know, I’ve obviously lived with Chappy for a while and you see the kid work, and I hardly get surprised when he makes plays like that.”
“For me, it’s more exhilarating,” Kaprielian said.
It appeared having someone of Chapman’s caliber is a confidence boost. One could only imagine having multiple elite gloves behind him in the infield.
Chapman led all MLB third basemen in 2019 with 34 defensive runs saved. Nolan Arenado, the St. Louis Cardinals third baseman then with the Colorado Rockies, was second behind Chapman with just 18.
“When you got guys like that around you: Him, [Matt Olson], Elvis [Andrus], whoever it is -- we’ve got all these weapons on defense,” Kaprielian said. “It makes it a lot easier for a pitcher, you know going nine on one versus the hitter. I don’t have to go up and do everything on my own. I know they’re going to make those plays.”
Chapman was asked about the confidence boost, if he’s aware of the power he possesses knowing he is right behind the pitchers to add to that mentality. He was aware, but said it stretches beyond just him.
“They should feel that way about our whole defense,” Chapman said Friday. “I feel like we have a really, really good defense as a whole, especially our infield. I feel like our pitchers should really try to pitch and get groundballs, our infield is really, really good. Elvis has come in and he looks great, you know -- obviously Oly over there. And obviously, whoever we put at second base we have full confidence in. Along with our outfield, but I really believe we have one of the best infields in the big leagues and as a pitcher."
Andrus has spent the entirety of his 12-year career playing shortstop. Andrus being acquired by the A’s simply will be learning to work with one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. And a two-time Gold Glove-award-winning first baseman in Olson.
So far, it seems to be going well.
At second base this upcoming season, there is a possibility they have a platoon situation with Chad Pinder and lefty-bat Tony Kemp. Vimael Machin also could get time at second base, or offer up a break for Andrus or Chapman.
Pinder was the Opening Day starter at second base in 2020.
And when Sean Murphy is fully healthy and returns, not only will he prove that he can catch any pitcher on the staff behind the plate, but his power will be on full display as a batter as well.
They simply have options, and plenty of defensive gems to entertain.