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The Truth About Eric Chavez

"What's maddening about Eric Chavez is that he's so gosh-darn inconsistent." Actually, no. Chavy is a lot more consistent than he may appear to be--once you know what you have. Here's what you have in Eric Chavez:

* Like most players, when he is injured Chavez doesn't hit anyone well at any time. So when his swing reminds you of watching your 82-year old Aunt Bertha sweep the back porch, you know Chavez will not hit, not against lefties, not against righties, not in the clutch, not leading off the inning. Should he sit or should he play? Is his defense worth the lack of offensive production? Should he bat 5th or 8th? All good questions but not relevant to this post. When injured, Chavez will not hit, end of story.

* Similar to Hank Blalock, even when healthy Chavy is a mediocre hitter against left-handed pitching. This is especially frustrating in light of the fact that Chavy has all the tools to hit .300 with power against LHP if he would just "stay in" and try to hit the ball hard where it's pitched. But even when at full strength, at this point in his career Chavez is at best inconsistent, and at worst oft overmatched, when facing a LHP.

* When healthy, Chavez mashes right-handed pitching, plain and simple. (Even following 1+ injury riddles seasons, Chavy's career OPS against RHP currently stands at .890.)

*Here's my main point today: When Chavez is hot, he hits in all situations and he is cold, he doesn't hit in any situations. Is Chavy clutch? He has plenty of important, clutch hits in his career, many of them in the season's second half (when Chavez traditionally has gotten hot). A huge 3-run HR off of Brendan Donnelly, a big single up the middle of off J. C. Romero, a 2-run single to cap a miracle comeback against Seattle, and a 2-run HR after "standing up on the bus" are among many "clutch" successes you can find in the archives. And I'm sure that for each clutch hit you can recall several key at-bats where Chavez watched strike three or popped the first pitch up--and was doing this in un-clutch situations as well.

So here's what to expect: If Chavez is healthy--as he says he now is--he'll hit righties like a middle-of-the-order threat. And if he's in one of his "hot streaks," then as a bonus he'll also hit lefties and he's liable to come up with a big hit in a big situation--essentially he'll be the gold glove version of David Ortiz. And the rest of the time, he'll frustrate the bejeebers out of you. And me.

The traditional A's-Astros rivalry resumes later today at 5:05pm PDT.