The accolades for Oakland A’s third baseman Matt Chapman and his spectacular glove continue to mount.
Chapman was voted the top defensive player in all of Major League Baseball, earning the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year in results announced Wednesday.
The 25-year-old third baseman is the first A’s player to win the award, which recognizes the top defensive player at each position, the top overall defensive player and the top overall defensive team. Winners are determined by using a formula that combines traditional defensive stats with advanced metrics.
On Sunday, Chapman was honored with the Gold Glove Award for American League third basemen, while teammate Matt Olson took the award for AL first basemen.
In his first full major league season, Chapman led all players regardless of position in defensive runs saved (29). Chapman also led all major league third basemen in total chances (484), assists (331) and zone rating (.853).
Chapman made 20 errors for a .959 fielding percentage, and last month said he sees room for improvement.
“Definitely proud of it, but a lot of room to get better, I think,” Chapman said before the wild-card game at Yankee Stadium. “I made too many errors for my liking. But our defense has gotten just better and better, and I think it goes for the amount of work our coaches help us with positioning and the extra work they do with ground balls or whatever it is, and the guys’ on our team work ethic.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin, a finalist for AL Manager of the Year, said last month that Chapman’s defense has been no secret to those who have watched him come up through the A’s system since they selected him in the first round of the 2014 draft out of Cal State Fullerton.
“His defense, from the time he got here, was off the charts and continues to trend in that direction,” Melvin said. “So he’s just one of those special guys defensively that has the arm strength to play deep, has the first-step quickness, is very, very confident in what he does. He can play back. You bunt on him, it’s tough to get a bunt down on him because he’s so quick coming in. It’s all of the above.
“I haven’t seen this many qualities in a third baseman really ever since I’ve been watching this stuff. And I’ve had some pretty good third basemen — and our third base coach is a pretty good one in Matt Williams, and he’ll tell you the same.”
Chapman follows in the footsteps of a couple of excellent third basemen in recent A’s history — six-time Gold Glove winner Eric Chavez and three-time All-Star Josh Donaldson.
“Yeah, to be in that company is awesome,” Chapman said. “Growing up, watching Eric Chavez as a young kid and really looking up to him and some of those guys and watching the way he went about playing defense, and he kind of just played hard, played the game the right way. And Donaldson, as well, he was always fun to watch, and to be able to come in after guys like that has been pretty cool. Obviously got to live up to the standard that they set.”