WASHINGTON — Adam Eaton’s acquisition this offseason gave the Washington Nationals what they wanted: a player defensively competent enough to move Trea Turner back to the infield.
Through the first nine games of his tenure in D.C., Eaton has actually struggled defensively, according to sabermetrics. He went into Friday tied at -5 with two other players for the statistic defensive runs saved, despite playing an errorless centerfield. Metrics are in the eye of the beholder, so there is some debate over how much that matters.
What is not up for debate, however, is that Eaton gives 100 percent hustle on every play. In the top of the fifth inning on Friday, in a 1-1 game with nobody out and a Philadelphia Phillie on second base, Eaton tracked a ball across his defensive range, leaping up to make a sensation catch against the fence in right-center field.
Eaton’s catch not only prevented a multi-base hit (and likely saved a run, for the metrics lovers) but also kept the runner at second base with a stellar recovery and throw:
As it turns out, the play factored heavily into the final outcome of the game. The Nats and Phillies each scored again, taking the game to extra innings, where the Nats secured a walk-off win.
This is not a play that every outfielder has the determination or talent to make. Eaton could have done the safe thing and played the carom, but instead, he finished the play. If this is the type of play that the Nats can expect from Eaton, then this is a trade that will work out favorably.