Sep 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton lays down a bunt single against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Centerfielder and lead-off batter Adam Eaton was brought to the Chicago White Sox this past offseason in a trade for one main reason: energy.
Eaton provided that …. and more.
He brought speed and the ability to get on base, as he was one of just two White Sox batters to bat at .300 or better in ’14, earning that average by going 3-for-3 in the final game of the season. Eaton did have some bumps in the road this season, mostly due to time on the disabled list due to his high-impact style of play.
However, Eaton proved in year one on the South Side that he is capable of being a mainstay in the White Sox outfield for years to come.
Eaton had a .260 average after two months into the ’14 season, after the White Sox obtained him from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade which also included the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He did miss some time due to an injury, however, still managed to score 27 runs in the first two months.
On April 12 versus the Cleveland Indians, Eaton managed to hit his lone home run of the season. Eaton’s BB/K ratio wasn’t the best, considering that it was only 16/30. In future seasons expect him to hit a few more homers, especially if he can stay on the field more consistently, as he finished this season playing in 123 games.
Sep 10, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) and center fielder Adam Eaton (1) react after the game against the Oakland Athletics at U.S Cellular Field. The Chicago White Sox defeat the Oakland Athletics 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
June and July were strong months for the White Sox lead-off batter. Eaton hit .309 in June and .340 in July, raising his average from .260 to .296 in two months.
Eaton also didn’t get injured during those two months, which was also a plus. He didn’t score as many runs during that time (24 compared to 27), but some of that was due to the fact that the offense had cooled off. The best stat of all was his on-base percentage, which was .391 in June and .400 in July.
Eaton’s best statistical month was August, but there is a twist … he was on the DL for a good part of the month, therefore he only played in 14 games.
While Eaton did have 49 at-bats in August, he had 20 hits (.408 avg) and an OBP of .473 for the month.
He averaged nearly a run per game, scoring 13 runs in 14 games, and his OPS was over 1.000, coming in at 1.044 which was his highest monthly total of the year.
While he cooled off in September, Eaton’s cumulative average for the year was .300, and cumulative OBP was .362. That is a good year for a young lead-off hitter getting used to a lot of new pitchers and a different league.
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Will Eaton continue to improve?
If he can stay healthy and learn to steal bases, hopefully Eaton could someday become a Lenny Dykstra type lead-off hitter, as Dykstra batted batted .285 in 12 MLB seasons with 285 career stolen bases (an average of 36 steals per season).
Players like Dykstra and Eaton are energetic, and the rest of the lineup feeds off of them. One key for the White Sox this offseason is to find someone who can handle the bat second in the order behind Eaton, mostly so they can hit-and-run with Eaton on base.
If they can do that, the top of the White Sox order could be very good in 2015, and Eaton can improve on what was a quality and successful first season on the South Side.