The adjustment driving Matt Chapman's hot start to 2023

Matt Chapman put a target on best field long prior to the season began. And he’s not missing out on.

Chapman’s sweltering start to 2023 has actually been driven by something above all else: elite opposite-field power. He appears like a lefty slugger in the right-handed batter’s box.

The Blue Jays 3rd baseman stated he was going to do this, when he made the modification that let him open the best side of the field: changing from a leg kick to a toe tap in his swing, inspired by his low batting average and high strikeout overalls in his very first year in Toronto and last year in Oakland.

“I wasn’t making enough contact, I wasn’t driving the ball to right field and wasn’t behind the baseball as much,” Chapman informed Sportsnet early in Spring Training. “I was kind of out and around and pulling the ball a lot. I wanted to get back to being able to use the whole field and be even more athletic in the box. I know I’m better than that.”

Now he’s showing that he is. Everything Chapman pictured when he modified his swing has actually pertained to fulfillment early in 2023 — setting him up for a huge season that would seal him as one of the headlining complimentary representatives of this year’s class.

Here’s the spray chart of Chapman’s strikes this season. Nearly half of them are to the best side of the field, consisting of 4 crowning achievement and 9 extra-base hits.

That’s more extra-base hits to the best side of the field than he had all of last season and the season prior to that. The last time Chapman had opposite-field power like this remained in 2018 and ’19, the very best offending seasons of his profession.

Chapman’s XBH to best side of field, by year
For complete seasons of his profession
2018: 17 XBH (3 HR) in 145 video games
2019: 25 XBH (10 HR) in 156 video games
2021: 6 XBH (3 HR) in 151 video games
2022: 5 XBH (0 HR) in 155 video games
2023: 9 XBH (4 HR) in 21 video games

And that was the entire point of his offseason changes.

“I’m truly simply attempting to return to what I seem like made me effective,” Chapman said. “I seem like I drove the ball the other method a lot if you recall to previous years. It’s something I may have escaped over the last number of years, and I’m simply attempting to return to what made me an effective player in the past.”

Chapman’s 9 extra-base hits to the best side are the most by any right-handed player, and more than almost every left-handed player, too. He has more than lefty sluggers like Cody Bellinger, Matt Olson, Kyle Tucker, Juan Soto, Yordan Alvarez and Rafael Devers. His punching portion to the best side of the field is the greatest in the Majors.

Highest SLG to best side of field, 2023
Min. 20 balls strike to best side

1. Matt Chapman: 1.304
2. Max Muncy: 1.281
3. James Outman: 1.222
4. Josh Lowe: 1.156
5. Jack Suwinski: 1.091

“I worked on it in the offseason. It’s something I had always done,” Chapman stated. “If you look back to the Minor Leagues or earlier in my career — in 2017, ’18 and ’19, even ’20 before I had hip surgery — I was driving the ball to right field and everywhere. To be able to be healthy and trust that I still can do that, after working on it pretty hard, it’s nice to see those results for sure.”

Of the 23 balls Chapman has actually struck to the best side of the field, 18 have actually been hard-hit — 95 miles per hour or more difficult off the bat. Thirteen of those hard-hit balls have likewise remained in the launch angle sweet area of 8-32 degrees, which covers the line drives and crowning achievement where players do one of the most damage.

Highest hard-hit + sweet-spot % to best side of field, 2023
Min. 20 balls strike to best side of field

1. Matt Chapman: 56.5%
2. Randy Arozarena: 42.9%
3. J.D. Martinez: 39.1%
4. Jack Suwinski: 37.5%
5. Nolan Gorman: 34.5%

Chapman’s typical exit speed when striking the ball to the best side of the field is 99.0 miles per hour. The just sluggers ahead of him are 2 of the lefty kings of pull power, Joey Gallo and Joc Pederson.

This isn’t simply crucial for Chapman as a specific player. It’s crucial for the Blue Jays in specific, whose changes to the Rogers Centre measurements consisted of moving the right-center-field fence 16 feet better — precisely where Chapman is driving the ball.

Chapman might have had 3 additional homers last season if the Rogers Centre measurements were what they are now. Imagine the power totals he might include now that he’s squashing balls to right-center with consistency.

Chapman is leading the charge, however the Blue Jays have actually taken a team-wide all-fields technique, which has actually assisted power the strong starts for their other star players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

Guerrero has a set of opposite-field homers, and Bichette has actually been spraying base strikes the other method all season, as he leads the American League in hits for a 3rd straight year. Toronto’s right-handed players have 66 hits to the best side of the field, more than any other group, consisting of 17 extra-base hits and 7 crowning achievement.

“It makes our group truly hard,” Chapman said. “You take a look at George [Springer], Bo, Vladdy, they’re elite. They utilize the entire field. Watching those people work and what they do, and after that you take a look at the course of history with [Miguel Cabrera] and all of these truly excellent players — they all utilize the entire field.”

Keegan Matheson contributed reporting to this story.

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