Why the White Sox Need Adam Eaton


June 8, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton (1) hits an RBI single in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With the tough August days of the baseball season among us, the White Sox now have to face arguably their biggest challenge. As us fans know, the relief pitching has been atrocious, but the offense has flourished. Unfortunately, the Sox just lost a huge part of what makes their offense as great as it is. So, what will be missed by the team that is now without Adam Eaton?

Well, for starters, they will miss what is considered their only true leadoff hitter at the moment. Eaton is the ideal example of a pure leadoff guy. He’s fast, he hustles, and he knows how to work the count very well. That is something that sets a great pace for the offense and gets the opponent’s pitcher to throw as many pitches as he can in the first inning. I would imagine Alejandro De Aza was thrilled to see Eaton come to Chicago. He is more comfortable in the middle of the lineup, swinging at the first pitch if he likes it. With Eaton out, he may now be put in more leadoff situations. Although he certainly has the speed to be a leadoff hitter, he does not have the patience. Adam Eaton has 36 walks on the year to De Aza’s 29, even though De Aza has played 12 more games. Alejandro also strikes out at a much higher rate, 81 to Eaton’s 63. Patience is key for a leadoff hitter, and it’s something that De Aza simply doesn’t have.

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Another thing this team loses is a fantastic defensive Center Fielder. Jordan Danks was called up from Charlotte in result of Eaton going on the DL. Danks is well-known by White Sox fans to be a great defender, but he doesn’t bring the bat (.098 AVG in 2014 for the White Sox), or the speed (4 steals between AAA and the Majors in 2014), that Eaton does at the top of the lineup. Not that he will be hitting in the leadoff spot, but Eaton’s .304 batting average and 12 steals is something that nobody expects Danks to come even close to. His glove will be helpful for the two weeks or so that Eaton is gone, but once Danks starts to slump at the plate, they will definitely be hoping for Eaton to make a speedy recovery.

So, what else does Eaton bring? Hustle. The whole result of this new injury to Eaton has to do with Wednesday’s game, where he ran into the right-center field wall on an Adam Rosales home run. He left the game, came back into action yesterday, but then exited early due to sore ribs. There is no denying how much hustle the 25-year-old has, especially if you’ve ever seen him run down to first after a walk. It’s great that the worst insult to give to Eaton is that he tries too hard, but it does sometimes get him into situations like this one. This is now Eaton’s second time on the DL this season, the other time being a hamstring issue from constantly moving his quick legs. He also had a few other minor injuries that kept him out for a few games here and there. His hustle is something to be admired, but it is also something that will catch up to him throughout the season.

Last but most certainly not least, Adam Eaton brings personality. He’s not only one of the funnest White Sox players to watch, but one of the nicest guys you’ll see to his teammates. Every time I see him in the dugout, he is always talking to others, or putting a smile on their faces. He always brings a certain charisma onto the field as well. One that seems crazy, but also likes to have fun doing what he loves most. It’s nice to see a young man play the game not just for the money, but because it is what he loves to do. Even though he’ll still be in the dugout, it’s gonna be a shame not seeing him high-five Alexei Ramirez after a win.

With the White Sox in 4th place in the A.L. Central, and 7 games under .500, now is the time we need guys like Adam Eaton more than ever. We’ve seen this team get stuck in a huge rut recently, and it’s only going to get tougher as we now have at least 15 days without our primary leadoff hitter. Hopefully our pitching and defense can keep us above water, while our offense continues to carry the load without one of its best players.