When a key position player player goes down with an injury, it usually sends managers scrambling to fill the void immediately, so they seek help from their bench, farm system, or possible trades. Replacing a high caliber player isn’t always the easiest task and the same production out of that backup isn’t normally expected. The Yankees have found themselves in this tough spot many times this season and it seems as if every time the call, their veterans on the bench have answered.
This statement couldn’t be any truer in the club’s most recent case. At the end of July, third-basemen, Alex Rodriguez, was hit by a pitch directly on the hand which left it broken and put A-Rod on the DL for 6-8 weeks. Rather than going into panic mode, the Yankees pulled Eric Chavez off the bench to take over the starting role at third base in the meantime and he’s proving that the team couldn’t have asked for a better backup.
Chavez has been absolutely sizzling since finding himself in the starting lineup on a day-to-day basis. He’s found himself on the field quite often this year and now when the Yankees need him most he’s really picked it up. In eight starts so far in August, Chavez has been an essential part of the offense’s success with his .484 batting average, four home runs, and eight RBIs. On the season, he’s provided the bombers with a total of 13 homers, 30 RBIs, and a .293 average.
The team knew he was more than capable of taking over the corner with the glove, but his contributions at the plate may be even more surprising. With performance like this from a backup, it raises question and concern regarding the underperformance of the Yankees original starter, A-Rod. When comparing the two, it’s becoming more clear that Chavez has been the more reliable player throughout 2012. Rodriguez has 16 more total at-bats than Chavez to this point, and has only tallied two more homers (15) and 14 more RBIs (44) while only batting .276.
As age and injury continue to be the dark cloud settling over A-Rod’s career and his stats steadily decline, Chavez has brought some light to New York amidst the darkness. During this past offseason, it was a tossup whether or no the Yankees would resign Chavez to the squad and as spring training approached they finally made the offer to keep him in pinstripes and now, they’re surely glad they did so. Chavez would be a welcome starter at third on many other teams in the league but he seems to fit the bench role perfectly in the Bronx, and has stepped up when needed most especially in situations like these. Coming out of the dugout, Chavez’ youth and reliability in comparison to A-Rod, has clearly out-shined his competitor, easing the minds of fans and the Yankee organization alike while their marquee player recovers.