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White Sox Year in Review: Adam Eaton

Entering the 2016 season, Adam Eaton had already established himself as a solid, above-average player for the White Sox. In two seasons after coming over in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Eaton had become the leadoff hitter the White Sox had been lacking for some time, getting on base at a solid clip (15th in the American League with a .361 OBP) and offensively, was only a tick below Lorenzo Cain, who wound up finishing third in MVP voting.

Seriously, it surprised me, too. Look at the numbers:

2015 Lorenzo Cain: .307/.361/.477, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 125 OPS+
2015 Adam Eaton: .287/.361/.431, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 122 OPS+

Cain was the better offensive player — particularly in terms of power — but what really set him apart from Eaton in regards to American League center fielders was the fact that in addition to his offensive prowess, Cain was and continues to be an incredible defensive center fielder, while Eaton was merely average. Cain was worth 17.2 fielding runs above average, while Eaton was just 2.1.

In moving from center to right field on 2016, Eaton’s value jumped tremendously, and while his offensive numbers are almost identical to what they were a year ago, his FRAA while playing right field primarily has jumped to an incredible 29.0, which is 9.6 points above the next best right fielder, Mookie Betts.

2015 Adam Eaton: .287/.361/.431, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 122 OPS+, 2.1 FRAA, 4.6 WARP

2016 Adam Eaton: .285/.362/.429, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 119 OPS+, 29.0 FRAA, 6.3 WARP

It also doesn’t hurt that he’s been able to stay healthy. As someone who often plays with reckless abandon in the outfield, he missed considerable time as a rookie in Arizona and had two separate DL stints that forced him to miss nearly 40 games in his first season in Chicago. But this will be his second straight season of at least 153 games played. Imagine this White Sox lineup without Eaton for large chunks of time. On second thought, don’t.

Eaton’s defense elevated him from being merely a very good outfielder to someone worthy of down-ballot MVP consideration, and on a team that has been starving for talent both offensively and defensively for some time, has stood out as a rare pillar of consistency.

Lead Photo Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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2 comments on “White Sox Year in Review: Adam Eaton”


An incredible defensive season. From an eye test he caught everything reminiscent of Calderon in ’90 and Rowand in ’05. Eaton’s throws were one of the funner things about this miserable season too.

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