Mark Simon, ESPN Staff 102d

August's top defender: Matt Chapman quickly joins elite at third base

Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman's defensive numbers look a lot like Aaron Judge's offensive numbers from the early part of the season: otherworldly.

The Athletics rookie has 18 defensive runs saved in only 55 games, a pace not dissimilar to Judge's early-season home run pace. Chapman has already weaved his way to the second-highest runs saved total at the position, trailing only Nolan Arenado, who has played over 600 innings more than Chapman.

How has Chapman done this? He handles everything that he should handle, meaning the balls hit what you would call "straight on." But he has also excelled at getting to the ball down the third-base line.

He is highly adept at turning the double play. He has had 21 opportunities in which he's fielded a ball with a man on first and fewer than two outs. He has converted 18 into double plays.

So Chapman passes both the statistical test and the eye test. A longtime scout offered this assessment:

"He's got one of the best throwing arms I've ever seen in my life. I saw him pitch in college and he threw 95 mph. He's very aggressive in the field. He has really good hands. He's able to make the routine play and the great play. We write thousands of reports and we're always asked to include comparable players. I was thinking Nolan Arenado, but that's a different animal. He's acrobatic, but he doesn't throw like Matt. He's a potential Gold Glover. Adrian Beltre had and has similar tools. He's a good comp."

Chapman finished July hitting just below .200, but slashlined .277/.349/.511 with four home runs and 10 doubles in 106 August plate appearances. So though the glove came first, it looks as though the bat will play, too.

"I think he'll hit," the scout said. "He has both strength and bat speed. He just has to get comfortable at a new level. He will. I think he'll be there for a long time."

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