Eric Chavez, the five-tool third baseman with extraordinary skill and a low-key California personality who won six straight Gold Glove awards and became the only star of the famed Moneyball A's to sign a long-term deal to stay in Oakland, is retiring Wednesday after an exceptional 16-plus-year career.

Chavez rode great natural ability that allowed him to post six 25-homer seasons before he was 28 and unusual dedication and work ethic that transformed him from an "all hit" prodigy to become one of baseball's best third basemen. He would later reinvent himself as a student of hitting and became a high-percentage bench player. But while Chavez characteristically expressed no regret save for the one disappointment over never quite reaching the World Series with the overachieving A's teams or star-studded Yankees teams -- despite some very close calls -- his interesting, bifurcated career path may leave some one wondering what might have been if not for a string of mid-to- late-career injuries.

"He had an amazing career," said A's GM Billy Beane, the famed Moneyball architect who is so close to Chavez that folks around the Oakland baseball scene often viewed him and Chavez as big and little brother. "Quite frankly, had injuries not hit at the wrong time, he was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. If you look at what he did to age 26, you could see him ending up (in Cooperstown)."

Chavez, best remembered for a rare power-defense combination in his A's heyday, made the retirement announcement Wednesday in an interview with Chavez already has turned in the papers with MLB, sacrificing well over $1 million by volunteering to move from the disabled list to retirement, no surprise if you know Chavy, as he is called by his baseball friends.