Matt Chapman, seen here in August of 2017, is the best defender in the American League. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Matt Chapman wins AL Platinum Glove Award from Rawlings

If there were there any doubt as to who the best defender in the American League was, it was erased on Friday evening.

That’s when Matt Chapman — the American League Gold Glove Award winner at third base — was given yet another honor: the Rawlings Platinum Glove.

On Nov. 7, Chapman earned the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award — becoming the first Oakland Athletic to win that honor — and on Friday, became the first Athletic to win the Platinum Glove, unveiled in 2011. The Platinum Glove winner is chosen by fans from among Gold Glove winners. In 2013, a new sabermetric component were factored into the determination of the award, along with the international fan vote.

Chapman joins fellow El Toro High School alumnus Nolan Arenado, who won the award for the National League last year and this year. The fan vote was an easy hurdle to clear for Chapman — easier than an Oakland Coliseum tarp. His cross-diamond throws and plays deep behind the third-base coaching box regularly went viral on social media. Along with the defensive stats to back up those highlight-reel plays, the Platinum Glove seemed a foregone conclusion.

This year, Chapman, 25, was one of two A’s infielders to win Gold Gloves — the first time ever the A’s have had multiple infielders earn the honor. First baseman Matt Olson also pulled down his first Gold Glove, while second baseman Jed Lowrie and shortstop Marcus Semien were finalists.

Chapman led all American League third basemen — and in fact, all major leaguers — with 29 defensive runs saved (eight more than second-place Andrelton Simmons) and sported a 19.5 SABR Defensive Index rating as of the final, pre-Gold Glove report. That number was the highest in the major leagues, ahead of Semien’s 11.6.

He led American League third basemen in total chances (484), assists (331), and zone rating (.853).

Chapman led all major league third basemen with a 10.9 ultimate zone rating. UZR compares the event that actually happened (hit/out/error) to data on similarly hit balls in the past to determine how much better or worse the fielder did than the “average” player.

UZR divides a baseball field into multiple zones and assigns individual fielders responsibility for those zones. Only six players covered more ground in their zone than Chapman, including Olson (fifth, with an 11.6). Semien came in 12th (8.3).

“I know Matt Williams is walking on clouds right now, based on the fact that he’s our infield guy,” said manager Bob Melvin, two weeks ago, of his infield coach, who won four Gold Gloves of his own as a player. “To see all four guys as finalists is pretty cool. The improvement we’ve made in such a short period of time not only speaks to the talent level, but the coaching staff, to work as hard as they did with these guys.”

Williams, Chapman said, helped him reach the next level as an infielder.

Previous Winners:

2017

Nolan Arenado (NL)
Byron Buxton (AL)

2016

Anthony Rizzo (NL)
Francisco Lindor (AL)

2015

Yadier Molina (NL)
Kevin Kiermaier (AL)

2014

Yadier Molina (NL)
Alex Gordon (AL)

2013

Andrelton Simmons (NL)
Manny Machado (AL)

2012

Yadier Molina (NL)
Adrian Beltre (AL)

2011

Yadier Molina (NL)
Adrian Beltre (AL)

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