OAKLAND — When a hitter is mired through a slump at the plate, sometimes the film room can serve as a nice oasis. That’s where Matt Chapman found his paradise.
Chapman’s batting average was down to .228 at the end of May, which did not sit well with the third baseman. Searching for answers as to what was going on with him at the plate, he went to hitting coach Darren Bush for feedback. The two went back to look at tape, and Chapman found what he was looking for.
Turns out Chapman had allowed his swing to get too long as a result of pressing a bit much at the plate. He credited the film review as a key to his recent success as he rediscovered his more compact swing which allows him to be more direct to the baseball.
“We saw when I was going well that I was really direct to the ball and there wasn’t any wasted movement,” Chapman said. “I think when I was scuffling a little bit, my swing was getting a little long. Now I’m being more consistent.”
Chapman is currently riding a five-game hit streak that has seen him go 10 for 16 with four doubles and a home run, even tying the A’s single-game record for doubles with three in Tuesday’s loss to the Astros. He’s raised his average up to .254 and is swinging the bat as well as he has all season.
“His BPs are great. He’s using the whole field, seeing the ball early,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Earlier in the season he was similar to this. You’re seeing that the last few games.”
The joint film study between Chapman and Bush is something that began last July during a series in New York against the Mets. Chapman was only about three weeks into his big league career, and batting well under .200.
Since that series in New York, going over the tape has been a common practice.
“We’ll revisit as much as we need to,” Bush said. “Now we’ll do it periodically and make sure he’s doing the things we want to do. Every hitter has their ups and downs, but as long as he’s staying in position and direct to the ball, it should give him the best chance for success.”
Allowing his swing to get too long isn’t something Chapman, 25, has not gone through before. It’s also something he won’t go through again after this recent success. Truth is, this is a common thing for all hitters, especially young hitters like Chapman.
“Guys want to have success and when they don’t, they immediately think something is wrong and start to do too much,” Bush said. “Sometimes it’s just, you got a round ball and the guy on the mound is pretty good. He made a good pitch and you missed. But these guys are perfectionists. They want to be perfect and have success every time they get in the box.
“But success comes in many different forms. It’s just a process of learning that.”
It’s hard to find the right balance of exactly how much film hitters should go back and look at. Bush said there are times Chapman might look at it too much, while other times he might not look enough.
But as Chapman matures and gets more years in the majors, it comes down to finding that consistency at the plate. With the tireless work ethic and strict routine Chapman employs day in and day out, Bush thinks it’s only a matter of time before the young third baseman finds that next level.
“It’s something that’s just been an ongoing process since he’s been here,” Bush said. “Trying to eliminate length in the back and stay direct and together. You hope the more you do it, the longer the good lasts and the shorter the bad lasts and you get it to where it’s just always consistent. Then it’s just a matter of, ‘I missed.’”
Source: East Bay How film room helped Matt Chapman get on hot streak at the plate