[EDITOR'S NOTE: devo's number nine choice is guaranteed to stir up controversy, especially because the Athletics organization has so many Hall of Famers. I'm a big Chavy supporter and I'm not convinced he's earned his way on this list yet. Yet. - Blez]
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: #8 will be posted next Sunday evening or Monday morning. I will be too busy making tofurkey and going to Yosemite over the weekend ... plus, I think we need to give some chance for suspense to build. ~Devo]
All-Time A's #9:
Eric Chavez' rookie year (1999) was met with much aplomb. After a very successful cup of joe the previous September, he was anointed an early Rookie of the Year favorite. As favorites often do, he failed to live up to expectations, however, struggling tremendously against lefties and platooning with Olmedo Saenz at third base.
Despite some slow starts, from 2000 through 2004, Chavez was the mark of consistency. His average, slugging and on-base numbers remained quite solid from year to year. In 2004 A's fans rejoiced as Billy Beane finally opened the purse strings and retained a star player. His contract remains the richest in club history.
His career .846 OPS is excellent, but what truly sets Chavez apart is his defense. He has won five consecutive Gold Gloves at the hot corner. His catlike reflexes and grace charging the ball make up for a throwing arm beset by injuries. Chavez credits Third Base/Infield Coach Ron Washington with his development. As a younger player, Chavez' potential as a hitter was unquestioned but many doubted his ability to be an adequate defender.
He has been known for his ability to drive bad pitches and even to hit the occasional check swing home run. Still only 27, Chavez could blossom into one of the true all-time greats or he could continue his consistent excellence. Either way, few can match his sustained all around excellence.
Is he the great hope or the one that represents the one that got away? Regardless his talents have been largely underappreciated in Oakland. He's consistently put up much stronger numbers than Tejada. Still, his numbers are underwhelming. He makes this list for two primary reasons. The first is his defense and the second is assumed longevity. Actually, I'm not assuming a very long career, just 11 seasons. What sets him apart is those 11 years would all be spent in Oakland. If he were traded tomorrow and put up those exact same numbers for four years elsewhere, his score would drop to #19. I'll accept any criticism you might offer on this method, it certainly is not proven to be historically sound. But this list is off all-time A's and longevity and actually playing for the A's is a big part of it. That said, I may have overvalued service time w/ the A's a bit.
#10 Eddie Plank
#9 Eric Chavez