Royals Take a Chance With Chapman

Royals Take a Chance With Chapman

Aroldis Chapman was once one of the most feared relievers in Major League Baseball because of a fastball that often reached triple digits. The 13-year veteran has 315 career saves, ranking him 24th on the all-time list. Among active pitchers, the seven-time All-Star trails only Craig Kimbrel (394) and Kenley Jensen (391) in career saves. Here are other Chapman career statistics: 44-35 record, 2.48 ERA, and 1,045 strikeouts.

Chapman’s off-the-field shortcomings, combined with an apparent decline in his pitching skills, have made him just another guy in the bullpen these days. The 34-year-old southpaw will be just another guy in the Kansas City bullpen this season. The rebuilding Royals recently signed him to a one-year contract for $3.75 million with performance bonuses. Chapman reportedly turned down offers from the San Diego Padres and Florida Marlins. The Royals hope Chapman will revive a bullpen that was last in the majors in WHIP (1.48) and fourth-worst in ERA (4.66) last season.

Aroldis Chapman | #Baseball #JamieSmed | Jamie Smed | Flickr

Stay home, Aroldis

Chapman’s second stint with the New York Yankees ended ingloriously last season, in the final year of a three-year, $48 million deal. Chapman was fined, left off the club’s playoff roster, and told to stay away from the team after he failed to show up for a mandatory team workout before the Yankees faced the Cleveland Indians in an American League division series. Chapman was home in Miami, Fla., instead of in the Bronx, providing live pitching to teammates.

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Even without going AWOL, Chapman had a crummy 2022 season. He lost his closer’s job to Clay Holmes in May after allowing at least one run in six straight games. Then his season went south. Chapman went on the injured list in May with left Achilles tendonitis and again in August because of an infection in his leg caused by a new tattoo. Yankees brass were not happy about Chapman getting a tattoo during the season.

Career-high ERA

The numbers tell the story of Chapman’s tough time on the mound in 2022. His 4.46 ERA was the highest of his big league career by nearly a run. His fastball velocity dipped to a career-low average of 97.5 miles per hour (Chapman owns the MLB record for the fastest pitch, recorded at 105.1 MPH). He had only nine saves, his fewest for a full season since 2011. Digging deeper into his 2022 statistics, Chapman had a career-worst strikeout rate (26.9%) and swinging-strike rate (12.7%). His 17.5% walk rate is the second-highest of his career.

To make matters worse, Chapman hasn’t exactly been a model citizen off the field. This year’s antics pale compared to what happened a few years ago. Chapman was suspended by MLB for 30 games in 2016 after pitching for the Cincinnati Reds for six seasons and just before being traded to the Yankees. The suspension was handed down after Chapman allegedly choked his then-girlfriend and fired eight gun shots in the garage of his home in Davie, Fla., in October 2015. No charges were filed.

The Yankees traded Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in the summer of 2016. He helped the Cubs win the World Series, and the Yankees benefited greatly from the trade by acquiring infielder Greyber Torres, an All-Star in 2018 and 2019. The Yankees re-resigned Chapman after his less-than-a-season stint with the Cubs, and he remained with New York for five years. Chapman will try to resurrect his career with the Royals.

File:Cubs reliever Aroldis Chapman delivers a pitch in the eighth inning. (30092485824) (cropped).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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