One of the great things about watching the A’s and Rockies play, which they do tonight and tomorrow afternoon, is the chance to watch the third base matchup.
Colorado’s Nolan Arenado has won seven Gold Gloves at third and is a five-time All-Star. Chapman has made one All-Star team, has won two Gold Gloves and has won the last two Platinum Gloves as the best defensive player at any position in the American League.
Coming into this season, Arenado has 40 defensive runs saved since 2017. Chapman had 34 last year alone.
More than that, they know each other well, dating back to when they were kids.
Arenado, who was a senior shortstop at Southern California’s El Toro High when Chapman was a sophomore. El Toro’s coach then was Mike Gonzales, who only played Chapman at shortstop when Arenado was pitching.
And so, El Toro has produced back-to-back Gold Glove third basemen.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened,” Gonzales said in 2018. “It would be a great marketing tool for our program, wouldn’t it?”
This much is for sure. Both men play mean defense. Chapman admits of no shortage of confidence in his defense. That’s due in part to because he creates his own confidence.
“For me personally, when you put that work in, that’s where the confidence comes from,” he said. “Confidence isn’t always just because of success you have, it’s because of the work you put in and you feel comfortable enough that you trust yourself to just go out and play.”
Chapman has only two full seasons in the big leagues, but if he keeps up the pace he’s on, he could be seen as a once-in-a-decade defensive wonder. His range on foul balls in the vast tundra that is the Oakland Coliseum is unmatched. His arm unleashes lasers. His ability to grab a ball on the fun and get off a throw is spectacular.
And then there is how deep he plays. He is so confident in his ability to charge even the slowest of rollers that it allows him to play far behind the bag. And that enables him to have that extra inch or two to cut off balls that look like they should be hits. Pitchers love him for that. Managers, too.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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