Just give Matt Chapman the Gold Glove already — he’s baseball’s best defender

Bob Melvin says not even a video game can compare to the defensive wizard

Karl Buscheck
August 01, 2018 - 10:28 am

The play of the night — or at least what should have been — came in the top of the fourth.

Matt Chapman raced in to field the bunt, eluded Trevor Cahill who ducked out of the way then slung the throw clear across the diamond, a one-hop out scooped up by Matt Olson.

Then the top of the eighth arrived and Chapman, Oakland’s resident magician, one-upped himself.

“Are you absolutely kidding me?” club broadcaster Glen Kuiper bellowed. “Stop it, right now, Matt Chapman.”

“That is otherworldly!” the analyst, Dallas Braden, piled on.

Braden’s right. At the moment, there’s no one on planet baseball who can do what Chapman does.

Whether you prefer the eye test or the advanced numbers, the conclusion is inevitable. Chapman is baseball’s best defender and he’s barrelling toward his first Gold Glove Award in his first full season.

“You want to say like video-gameish but I don’t know that a video game has seen that before,” Bob Melvin gushed, shortly after securing his 600th win with the A’s on Tuesday night.

The analytics on Chapman are staggering.

According to FanGraph’s Defensive Runs Saved, as calculated by “The Fielding Bible,” Chapman has been 23 runs better than average in 2018.

To put that number into context, +10 is considered great, +15 is Gold Glove stuff. His +23 is five runs better than the next best player in baseball and eight runs better than the next best infielder.

Amid a remarkable summer, Chapman’s wizardry, at times, has been lost. BoMel put it best, not even a video game can describe baseball’s best defender.

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