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Endy Chavez Sparks Mariners

Endy Chavez, fantasy baseball stolen basesAfter two dozen games, the Seattle Mariners are the team atop the American League West standings and Endy Chavez, the outfielder acquired from the Mets in the J.J. Putz deal, has been a main catalyst.

“He’s been a huge catalyst for us,” catcher Rob Johnson says. “He’s getting it done at the top of the order, making things happen for our offense, he’s playing great defense, and he’s also a great guy who’s a lot of fun to be around.

“He might only be 170 pounds, but he packs a serious punch when it comes to passion for the game.”

Chavez has been getting most of the starts in left field for Seattle this season. He got off to a torrid start with a .383 average after the Mariners’ first 12 games. In his first 23 games, Chavez has 10 runs, with 1 HR and 8 RBI. He has also stolen 5 bases and has walked a surprising 11 times against just 12 K’s. Chavez’s batting average is at .307.

But, Chavez still can’t go very far without being identified as the man who made one of the great catches in October baseball history. In the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, Chavez scaled the left field wall and robbed Scott Rolen of a dinger, then threw to first base to nail Jim Edmonds for a double play. It made the left-handed hitting speedster as one of the Mets’ fan favorites.

In fact, that 2006 ice-cream-cone-style grab was one of the first things Chavez’s new Seattle teammates wanted to talk about when he first arrived on the scene in Peoria, Ariz., for Spring Training.

“Oh yeah, they asked about it right away,” he says with yet another smile.

“They like that catch very much.”

And, Seattle is liking Endy too. He projects to having over 30 stolen bases on the fantasy baseball league season, but he could end up with as many as 40. Chavez stole 32 for the Expos back in 2004.

With the return of Ichiro to the lineup, the Mariners have a much stronger defensive outfield than they had last season with the speedy Endy Chavez in LF and Cesar Guittierez in CF to play with Suzuki.

Chavez will need to keep up his on-base percentage to keep his playing time as he will get challenged by the bigger sticks carried by Russell Branyan and Mike Sweeney. Branyan and Sweeney could DH, thus moving Ken Griffey Jr. into an outfield spot. Chavez is a career .272 hitter and his numbers have improved since he realized his role was to put the ball in play and run rather than taking a hard swing.

If you need stolen bases and don’t care much about homeruns, Chavez could be a good role player for your fantasy baseball team.

Endy Chavez and “The Catch” — 2006 NLCS.

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