Chapman could reach the next level of his development as a hitter by more consistently laying off high or outside pitches, Owen Pointdexter of Forbes reports. Pointdexter breaks down what the already impressive third baseman could do to further improve, and better pitch selection is one area he identifies as likely critical to Chapman becoming an even more consistent hitter. It's noted Chapman's teammate Mark Canha focused on not swinging at offerings outside the zone last season and posted a breakout year, and that a similar approach by the 26-year-old could lead to both more power and a higher on-base percentage. Chapman has traditionally done only modest damage on high or outside pitches in his career.
Chapman was hitting .238 (5-for-21) with three extra-base hits (one double, two home runs), six RBI, six walks and seven runs across 10 Cactus League contests before spring training was suspended. The slugging third baseman's batting average over the small sample may not be aesthetically pleasing, but Chapman was on base plenty when also factoring in his walks and clearly put good wood on the ball more often than not when hitting safely. Chapman heads into 2020 with massive expectations after generating career highs in home runs (36), RBI (91), walks (73) and runs (102) across 156 games last season.
Chapman worked on his hitting mechanics throughout the offseason in an effort to improve his performance against elevated fastballs and offspeed pitches, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports. At first glance, Chapman's career-high 36 home runs and 91 RBI imply there weren't many flaws with his work in the batter's box. However, the 26-year-old also slumped to a .194 average over his final 58 games of the campaign, which left him with a pedestrian .249 average for the season. Chapman is already an elite defender who's earned Gold and Platinum Gloves for his work at third base, but he enters spring training with a goal of hitting .300 and reaching the 40-homer mark for the first time in his career.
Chapman is not in the lineup for Sunday's game at Seattle, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Athletics clinched home-field advantage for Wednesday's AL Wild Card Game on Saturday, so it's no surprise to see him receive the day off in the finale. Sheldon Neuse will cover third base in his place Sunday.
Chapman went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run and a walk in Thursday's win over Seattle. Chapman accounted for the winning margin in the 3-1 contest with a two-run shot to center field in the second inning. The homer was his second in as many days and fifth overall in September. Despite hitting only .247 this season, the 26-year-old has set career highs in homers (36), RBI (91), runs scored (101) and walks (73).
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