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Endy Chavez’ Vitals
Center fielder, 27 years old, 5-10, 160. Bats and throws left. Career .264 BA, .303 OBA, .364 SA, 11 HR, 95 RBI, 53 SB in four seasons. Also played briefly with Kansas City.
A speedy slap hitter, he would be the ideal leadoff man except for one thing—he doesn’t get on base enough.
Chavez had the leadoff spot to himself for most of 2003 and was, in the words of the Baseball Prospectus, “an out-making machine”. He accounted for 388 outs that year including the eight double plays he grounded in to and the seven times he was caught stealing. The number of rallies he killed or failed to get started with his .294 OBA is incalculable.
Last year, although he did increase his outs total to 390, he improved his OBA to a slightly less awful .318 and showed more patience at the plate, cutting his strikeouts by a third, from 59 to 40. Most of this improvement came after he dropped to the second spot in the order and had Brad Wilkerson in front of him. This year, apparently, the leadoff spot is his to lose, as Frank Robinson wants to drop Wilkerson down in the order to take advantage of his power. If Chavez can add the same 24 points to his OBA that he added from 2003 to 2004 and keeps his strikeouts down, he can be a replacement-level leadoff man.
If he can do that, he’ll turn himself from a liability into an asset. While he occasionally makes mistakes in the field, he can make up for them with his speed. His arm was good enough for to get nine assists in each of the last two seasons, a solid number for a center fielder. He had 32 steals and got caught just seven times last year, a performance good enough to make opposing pitchers pay plenty of attention to him when he does reach first base.
Like a number of the team’s players, Chavez is reaching the age where his career will be defined. At 27, a player is supposed to be peaking and that would seem to go double for a player who relies on speed as Chavez does. He has had two seasons of full-time play in the majors. If he improves as he did from year one to year two, a string of years with seven-figure incomes is in his future. Should his play level off or regress to the ’03 level, phrases such as “non-roster invitation” and “minor-league contract” will be next to his name in the transaction reports when he reaches 30.
The key is improving his patience at the plate. If he takes more pitches, those big numbers are in his future. Should he continue to hack away, the latter scenario will come to pass.
2005 Down and Up
Downside: .245 BA, .290 OBA, 20 steals
Upside: .285 BA, .340 OBA, 45 steals
To find Endy Chavez’ career stats on Baseball-Reference.com, go to http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/chaveen01.shtml
To find previous player profiles in the “Who Are These Guys?” series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at CapitolDugout.com and search for “Nationals”.