There are a lot of reasons why the SF Giants are targeting All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman this winter. However, there is one overlooked area where he really would provide a boost - speed.
One overlooked area where Matt Chapman could help the SF Giants
Speed is not the first thing you associate with Chapman. Typically, the first things that come to mind are his excellent defense, which has netted four Gold Glove awards, or his above-average power. The right-handed bat has reached at least 20 home runs in four of seven seasons since debuting in 2017.
This includes a 36-homer effort in 2019. Do you remember the last time a Giants hitter swatted at least 30 home runs in a season? It was so long ago that Chapman was just 11 years old the last time it occurred. I am sure you can guess who did it.
There is a lot of substance connecting the seven-year veteran to the Giants. On Thursday night, Jon Heyman of the New York Post listed Chapman as one of three position players the Giants are targeting. Plus, Giants third base coach Matt Williams spoke glowingly about Chapman in an interview with KNBR on Thursday morning.
Chapman is not just familiar with Williams, but many of the key voices on the new coaching staff, including new manager Bob Melvin and bench coach Ryan Christenson. It does not hurt that Farhan Zaidi was still with the Oakland A's when Chapman was drafted in 2014.
The Giants will face some stiff competition to sign him given that the incumbent Toronto Blue Jays and the Arizona Diamondbacks are interested as well. Chapman did reject a qualifying offer, so the Giants would lose a draft pick in signing him.
If the Giants did sign Chapman, he would immediately upgrade the sprint speed on the team. Giants baserunners averaged 26.8 feet per second in 2023, which was the third-worst mark in baseball. Unsurprisingly, the Giants also had the second-fewest stolen bases in a year when new rules created a more favorable environment for base stealing.
Now, Chapman is not going to help in terms of stolen bases. Sprint speed does not always translate to becoming a base-stealing threat. He has swiped just 11 bags in 23 opportunities in seven seasons. That is right. He has been unsuccessful more often than not when he tries to steal. That trait will not improve with age.
Sprint speed does not improve with age either. However, in 2024, the front office is aiming to improve the team's speed and Chapman checks that box. He had a sprint speed of 28.5 feet per second last year, which is well above average. While not much of a threat to steal bases, the 30-year-old has consistently graded out as a plus baserunner.
Over the past couple of years, the Giants failed too many times to score a run on a hit to the outfield with a runner on second base. A little extra sprint speed would help. Is that worth the six years and $150 million he is projected to receive in free agency? Not at all, but it does highlight the fact that Chapman is a well-rounded player and those are hard to find.