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Chavez wins Gold Glove Award
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11/04/2003  5:10 PM ET 
Chavez wins Gold Glove Award
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Eric Chavez led all Major League third basemen and posted career highs in total chances with 482 and 125 putouts. (Ed Zurga/AP)
OAKLAND -- It's no secret that the A's success over the past few seasons has had a deep foundation in its brilliant starting pitching.

What is more often overlooked is one of the cornerstones of that foundation -- the solid infield defense of Eric Chavez.

Chavez was named the Rawlings American League Gold Glove third baseman for the third consecutive season Tuesday.

"I don't think it will ever get old, winning the Gold Glove," Chavez said. "You kind of hope you played well enough to earn it and I felt I did that this season."

Earn it he did.

With Oakland beginning the season with four left-handed starting pitchers and maintaining a southpaw-heavy rotation throughout the 2003 campaign, Chavez saw more chances than ever at the hot corner.

2003 Gold Glove winners
 C Bengie Molina, ANA
1B John Olerud, SEA
2B Bret Boone, SEA
3B Eric Chavez, OAK
SS Alex Rodriguez, TEX
OF Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
OF Mike Cameron, SEA
OF Torii Hunter, MIN
P Mike Mussina, NYY
C Mike Matheny, STL
1B Derrek Lee, FLA
2B Luis Castillo, FLA
3B Scott Rolen, STL
SS Edgar Renteria, STL
OF Andruw Jones, ATL
OF Jose Cruz Jr., SF
OF Jim Edmonds, STL
P Mike Hampton, ATL

He led all Major League third basemen and posted career highs in total chances with 482 and 125 putouts while tying for the big-league lead in double plays with 33.

Those numbers helped the A's starting pitching staff post a league-best ERA for the second straight season.

"Our defense was excellent this season," A's manager Ken Macha said. "Especially our infield defense in particular, and Eric was a big part of it."

Chavez agreed: "Our defense didn't get a lot of notoriety, but we definitely had a great defensive year."

Notoriety usually came in the form of adulation for Chavez and shortstop Miguel Tejada, who anchored the glovework for the A's, setting the tone.

"Your left side of the infield better be good if you're going to have all those left-handers," Macha added.

Lefty starter Mark Mulder said having Chavez behind him adds a level of confidence that makes him a better pitcher.

"He's the best down there," Mulder said. "As many sinkers as I throw to right-handers and the way they roll over on them, he makes the plays on that. Tough plays, barehanded plays, he does that all the time.

"He makes them all. I don't think a lot of people understand how important that is," Mulder added.

    Eric Chavez   /   3B
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 204
Bats/Throws: L/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Athletics site

Chavez's total chances were second-most in Oakland history next to Sal Bando's record of 523 in 1969 and his 33 double plays trailed only Bando's record of 36 in 1969 and '75. Chavez finished the seasons with a .971 fielding percentage which was the third-best in the American League and second-best of his career.

Macha said that Chavez's work off the field is evident up via those kind of numbers.

"Eric has continued to work hard and continued to improve his defense every day doing defensive drills and working," he said.

At the plate, Chavez also had a career year. He led all AL third basemen with 101 RBIs and tied for the home run lead at the position with 29. He is one of nine players in franchise history with three straight 100-RBI seasons.

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award is presented annually to 18 players, one from each position in both leagues. The winners are selected by big-league coaches and managers before the end of the regular season. Managers and coaches vote only for players in their own league and are not able to select their own players.

Chavez is the seventh Oakland player and the franchise's lone third baseman to win the award, the fourth A's player to win multiple Gold Glove Awards, joining outfielders Joe Rudi with three and Dwayne Murphy's six along with pitcher Mike Norris, a two-time recipient.

Kent Schacht is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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