The Red Report: Aroldis Chapman

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

An in-depth look at the Reds LOOGY closer starter.

Aroldis Chapman

#54 / Pitcher / Cincinnati Reds





Feb 28, 1988

Very Fast Facts:

  • Albertin Aroldis (de la Cruz) Chapman turned 25 last week. He was born in Holguín, Cuba. His paternal grandfather came to Cuba by way of Jamaica. His father is a boxing trainer.
  • Chapman was a star on the Holguín team in the Cuban league and the Cuban national team before defecting (by way of Andorra) in 2010. Chapman participated in international competitions such as the Pan Am Games and World Baseball Classic. He defected right before the 2009 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam in July 2009. "Any port in a storm," he may have muttered.
  • No single Reds transaction has shocked me more than Chapman's signing. Here's the first post at RR reporting on the Reds being in on Chapman; here's the official signing thread.
  • To start or relieve has been hotly discussed ever since Aroldis put pen to paper with the Reds. After beginning 2010 in Louisville's rotation, the Reds called Chapman up as a reliever in August after finding themselves in the midst of a pennant race. He did quite well.
  • Chapman stayed in the bullpen in 2011 but was much less effective - suffering from decreased velocity, poor control, and bouts of shoulder inflammation.
  • Here is bueno: In 2012, Chapman was historically great as a reliever. The few minor hiccups he encountered were nothing that a little rest and a few somersaults couldn't cure. Some of my favorite stats: no earns runs until June; only five earned runs against the National League all season; 15.3 K/9 (!!).
  • Here is horseshit: As an aloof character and a somewhat one-dimensional pitcher, critics have questioned his makeup for years. A Cuban writer publicly questioned Chapman's "work ethic, his subpar pitching 'intelligence' and versatility" shortly after the Reds signing was announced.
  • Still, Chapman was dogged last year by a string of off-the-field distractions. A Cuban defector sued him in federal court in Miami last May, alleging that Chapman ratted him out to Cuban authorities in order to get back on the Cuban national team after his first failed defection attempt. The suit is still pending.
  • There was also the weird story about Chapman's hotel room being robbed in Pittsburgh last summer, and a possible girlfriend being in on it. Weird.
  • Chapman got ticketed for going 93 without a license last May. WHICH IS SLOW FOR HIM LOLZ
  • #LetHimStart2013: After a false start last year caused by Ryan Madson's elbow injury, all signs point to Chapman entering the rotation this year. To avoid a Strassburgian furlough, Chapman could begin the year in the bullpen.
  • Chapman made his first ST start last Thursday, pitching two perfect innings. Per Fay, Chapman threw "mostly off speed stuff." He topped out at 94, and several pitches registered under 80.

Organizational History:

Signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 2010.

Contract Status:

MLB Service Time: 2.034 years
Current Contract Status: 6 yrs/$30.25M (10-14) & 15 player option. Chapman will make $2MM in 2013.

Career Stats:


Ratings via TheBaseballCube:

Control: 42
K-Rating: 80
Efficiency: 74
vsPower: 82

2013 Projections:

W L IP HR/9 K/9 BB/9 ERA
7 4 99 0.8 12.6 4.6 3.09
11 7 143.7 1.0 10.1 4.1 3.63
5 3 76 0.5
12.1 4.6 2.96
Bill James
4 3 67 0.5 13.2 4.3 2.42

Considering Chapman's transition this year, traditional projections are useless. Tango's "Rule of 17" projects that the K-rate goes down by 17% and BABIP to rise by 17% (while walks stay flat). But Chapman's uniqueness makes me doubt the value of just about any historical comp.

PITCHf/x Pitcher Profile:

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