Third Base: Eric Chavez
Eric Chavez cracks the Athletics’ top twenty in franchise career WAR thanks to two factors: his longevity with the organization, and his stellar defense. Chavez was a first round draft pick in 1996, and unlike most first-rounders, he played to expectations. He made his major league debut in 1998 and remained one of the most beloved A’s until 2010, when he was granted free agency.
Chavez’s defense helped him to become one of the longest-tenured Oakland Athletics. The six-time Gold Glove Award winner led the league in putouts and assists multiple times, and was either first or runner-up in double plays turned five times in his career. He led the AL in range factor per game in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and he also was ranked first in fielding percentage in both 2001 and 2006.
Chavez was capable of more than just good defense, though. He picked up a Silver Slugger Award in 2002, after hitting .275/.348/.513 with 34 home runs and eight stolen bases. Chavez’s later years hurt him, but he still finished his career with an OPS of .818 and 260 homers.
Of course, Chavez’s value declined steeply after he signed a $66 million, 6-year extension in 2004. Although the first few seasons were acceptable, injuries forced him to miss most of the season each year, beginning in 2007. Still, there are few players who are as beloved by a fan base as Chavez is by the Athletics. If it were put to a vote, the majority of fans would pick Chavez for All-Time third baseman every time.
Runner-Up: Carney Lansford
Third baseman Carney Lansford is one of the greats in A’s history, but he just couldn’t beat out Chavez for the popular vote. Lansford had a fifteen-year career, including spending the final ten years with Oakland. He was an All-Star in 1988, and he hit .288/.343/.404 with 146 stolen bases and 548 RBIs during his time with the A’s. As he got older, Lansford spent time at first base and designated hitter, presumably to give him a break from the hot corner. Born in San Jose, California, Lansford was another Bay Area native who helped to clinch the 1989 World Series. His other accomplishments included winning the AL batting title in 1981, as he also took home the Silver Slugger award that same season. He holds the record for the highest average in a season by any right-handed hitter in Oakland history, at .336.
Next: The Infield: The Backups