Adam Eaton (eatonad02)
Adam Cory Eaton
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 185 lb.
- School Miami University
- High School Kenton Ridge High School
- Debut September 4, 2012
Eaton hit .294/.374/.406 as a college freshman at Miami University, then improved to .350/.472/.617 with 6 triples, 11 home runs, 28 steals in 29 tries and 67 runs in 53 games as a sophomore. He was 4th in the Mid-American Conference in steals, fifth in runs and led in times hit by pitch (26). He made All-MAC in the outfield. As a junior, he batted .368/.466/.709 with 9 triples, 13 home runs, 64 runs, 55 RBI and 30 steals (caught 4 times) in 55 games. He was among the MAC leaders in OBP (5th), slugging (3rd), OPS (3rd), triples (1st), steals (1st) and hit-by-pitch (19, tied for 1st). Despite that, he did not make All-MAC for the year. In NCAA Division I, he tied for 7th in triples, tied for 34th in steals and was 47th in slugging.
The Arizona Diamondbacks took Eaton in the 19th round of the 2010 amateur draft; the scout was Frankie Thon. He had a tremendous pro debut for the Missoula Osprey, hitting .385/.500/.575 that summer with 48 runs, 37 RBI, 7 home runs, 20 steals in 28 tries and 35 walks in 68 games. He led the Pioneer League in average (22 points over #2 Jake Lemmerman), OBP (65 points ahead of runner-up Drew Heid) and times plunked (19) and was also tied for 6th in walks, tied for 6th in steals (with Travis Witherspoon), tied for 7th in hits (87, even with Leon Landry) and 10th in runs. He joined Corey Dickerson and Rafael Ortega as the league's All-Star outfielders, though he did not get the MVP (Lemmerman did). Baseball America did not consider him one of the league's top 20 prospects.
Adam split 2011 between the Visalia Oaks (.332/.455/.492 in 65 G, 54 R, 42 BB) and the Mobile BayBears (.302/.409/.429 in 56 G, 30 BB, 31 R). Overall, he scored 85 runs, stole 34 bases in 48 tries, drew 72 walks and was hit by 23 pitches. He led Diamondback farmhands in times hit by pitch and was second in steals, two behind A.J. Pollock. He was fourth in the affiliated minors in OBP, behind David Cooper, Ryan Langerhans and Mobile teammate Paul Goldschmidt. For Salt River in the Arizona Fall League, he hit .344, leading the prestigious AFL with 31 runs in 30 games (two ahead of Kevin Mattison) and finishing second with 42 hits (5 behind Nolan Arenado).
As good as Eaton was in 2010 and 2011, the former 19th-round pick was even better in 2012. He hit .300/.451/.325 with 11 runs in 11 games for Mobile, then moved up to the Reno Aces, where he batted .381/.456/.539 with 119 runs, 46 doubles and 38 steals (in 48 tries) in 119 contests. He led all of the affiliated minors in average, hits (198), doubles (41) and runs (130). He was also second in OBP (.456). In the 2012 Pacific Coast League season, he led in average (30 points ahead of Ryan Wheeler), OBP (14 points ahead of Jake Elmore), runs (23 more than Josh Fields), hits (24 more than runner-up Julio Borbon), steals and doubles (3 more than Taylor Harbin). He was 8th in slugging and 2nd in OPS (5 points behind Alex Castellanos). He joined Andrew Brown and Wil Myers in the PCL All-Star outfield and beat out Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Myers as PCL MVP. He also led off for the PCL in the 2012 AAA All-Star Game in a 3-0 win over the IL. His first time up, he singled off Tyler Cloyd and scored on a sacrifice fly later from Mike Hessman. He grounded out against Matt Harvey in the second and against Zach Duke in the 4th. Dan Robertson replaced him in center.
Called up to the majors in September, Eaton led off and played center field in his major league debut on September 4th. He struck out his first time up against Ryan Vogelsong but doubled his third time up and scored on an Aaron Hill homer; for the day, he went 2 for 6. He played 22 games with Arizona that month, hitting .259/.382/.412 and scoring 19 runs. His season ended on September 29th, when a pitch by the Chicago Cubs' Jeff Beliveau broke his right hand. That solid performance meant that a starting position in centerfield and as the team's lead-off hitter would be his to lose the following season.
Coming up through the minor leagues, Eaton had gained a reputation for annoying opposing teams. During a game in Reno in 2012, he bunted to the right side of the infield three consecutive times. In Eaton's next at-bat, the opposing pitcher threw one to the backstop. In spring training of 2013, he collided with Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas on an attempt to steal third, starting a dust-up and causing Moustakas to comment after the game that Eaton was "just a guy not knowing the game, that's all it is." For his part, Manager Kirk Gibson defended his player, saying that he appreciated the fact that he plays hard. However, the start of Eaton's season was delayed when he suffered a sprained left elbow in spring training. He had had a great spring until then, hitting .390 and securing his spot as a starter in the outfield until the injury. He was diagnosed with a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament, and while on a rehabilitation assignment with the Visalia in may, felt more pain. He returned to Phoenix, AZ where he faced potential season-ending surgery. However, he managed to avoid the surgery, and after a few weeks of rehabilitation in the minor leagues in late June and early July, he was called back to Arizona on July 9th and immediately inserted in the starting line-up in centerfield and as the team's leadoff hitter. On August 12th, he won a game with his power rather than his speed, hitting a 9th-inning walk-off homer against Darren O'Day of the Baltimore Orioles to give the Diamondbacks a 7-6 win after they had blown one-run leads in both the 8th and 9th innings. It was his first long ball of the year, and came on O'Day's first pitch as the lead-off hitter in the inning, when the Orioles were more preoccupied in defending against a bunt than a blast into the stands. He ended up with a batting line of .252/.314/.360 in 66 games for Arizona, scoring 40 runs. On December 10th, he was sent to the Chicago White Sox in return for P Hector Santiago, who was then immediately flipped to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim along with P Tyler Skaggs for slugging 1B/OF Mark Trumbo. Prospect Brandon Jacobs then went from the Sox to the D-Backs on December 13th, after the 2013 Rule V Draft, to complete the trade. After the trade, some of Eaton's former teammates stated anonymously to reporters that his departure was an "addition by subtraction" because he was a "selfish me-me type player" whose "attitude tended to wear on people."
Whatever bitter feelings he left behind in Arizona, he had a very good first season for the White Sox in 2014. He started 121 games in centerfield, hitting an even .300 with 26 doubles and 10 triples. He scored 76 runs and stole 15 bases, and posted an OPS+ of 117 in spite of hitting only one home run all year. His 10 triples tied for the American League lead with Michael Bourn of the Cleveland Indians. 2015 was another solid year. While his batting average fell to .287, he compensated with a significant increase of power, hitting 28 doubles, 9 triples and 14 homers. He scored 98 runs as the Sox's center fielder. In 2016, he moved to right field as J.B. Shuck took over in centerfield and continued to hit very well, to the tune of a .284 average, 14 homers and 59 RBIs. He scored 98 runs as Chicago's lead-off hitter and once again posted the top total for triples in the AL, with 9. For the third straight year, his OBP was over .360. However, his strong performance over the three years came under the radar as the White Sox were never really in the hunt for a postseason slot, except for a hot start that quickly petered out in 2016. The team decided to do a complete rebuild after the 2016 season, and two days after trading pitching ace Chris Sale, they sent Adam to the Washington Nationals in return for three young pitchers: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. The plan was to have him return to centerfield in Washington, with young Trea Turner moved back to his natural position of shortstop.
His first season with the Nationals lasted less than a month. In April 2017, he hit .297 in 23 games with 24 runs scored, but on April 28th he tore a ligament in his knee and was placed on the disabled list, his season over. He was back with a vengeance at the start of the 2018 season, however, as he started in left field on Opening Day on March 30th, going 1 for 3 with a walk and a run against the Cincinnati Reds. The next day, he exploded for 5 hits in as many at-bats, including 2 doubles and a homer, scored 4 runs and drove in 3 to lead the Nats to a 13-7 win. That excellent start made him the first recipient of the National League Player of the Week Award that season. However after just 8 games during which he hit .345, he was placed on the disabled list on April 11th with a bone bruise on his left ankle. The injury turned out to be more serious than initially thought, forcing him to undergo arthroscopic surgery a month later with no date set for his return. He missed two full months before coming back on June 9th. He ended up playing 95 games, during which he hit .301 with 5 homers and 33 RBIs while scoring 55 runs.
In May of 2019, he was involved in a very public feud with 3B Todd Frazier of the New York Mets. With both teams playing well below expectations, the two exchanged barbs over a couple of days. Apparently, there was bad blood between them from the time they had been teammates with the White Sox a few years earlier. He went on to have his best season in years, playing 151 games and batting .279 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs. Most impressive was his career-high 103 runs scored and he contributed to the Nationals' remarkable turnaround, as they made it to the postseason in spite of their awful start. It was his first postseason action, and after being blanked in the Wild Card Game, his batting average improved in every round to reach .320 by the time the Nats were facing the Houston Astros in the World Series. He contributed 8 hits, 5 runs and 6 RBIs to Washington's win in 7 games. He was back with Washington in 2020, but this time it was the Coronavirus pandemic that cut his season short, to just 41 games. He had his worst season overall, batting .226 with an OPS+ of 83 (after six straight seasons of being above 100).
After the 2020 season, Eaton became a free agent and signed for a return engagement with the White Sox. However, at 32, he seemed to be only a shadow of his former self during the first half of the 2021 season. In 58 games, his batting average was down to .201 and his OBP below .300, for an OPS+ of 79. Had the Sox been at full strength in the outfield, this may have gone under the radar, but with youngsters Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez both absent for most of these three months, it was hard to sweep his lack of production under the rug. Just before the All-Star break, on July 7th, the White Sox had him designated for assignment, and one day after he was formally released, on July 14th, he was picked up by the Los Angeles Angels, who were hoping from some sort of dead cat bounce on his part. Two of the Angels' starting outfielders, Mike Trout and Justin Upton were out with injuries at that point and the team had been forced as a result to use an infielder in one of the outfield spots in recent games.
- 2012 MVP Pacific Coast League Reno Aces
- 2-time AL Triples Leader (2014 & 2016)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2019)
- Won one World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019
- Jamal Collier: "Center of attention: Eaton is a hit in DC: New Nationals outfielder interacts with fans at club's WinterFest", mlb.com, December 10, 2016. 
- Mike Vorkunov: "Adam Eaton learned from his low points with White Sox: 'Dude, you have no idea'", USA Today Sports, June 1, 2016. 
- Todd Zolecki: "Eaton: Knee responding 'extremely well': Outfielder talks rehab, Spring Training prep on MLB Network", mlb.com, January 9, 2018.