We had the opportunity to talk with former Montreal Expos 1996 draft pick Jamey Carroll who was an original Washington Nationals infielder on the inaugural 2005 team. Carroll is now a special assistant with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was discussing the changing landscape with teams going old-school to try to replicate what the Royals put together in 2014 where speedy contact hitters who could cause havoc were now premium players as witnessed by the Nationals acquisition of Adam Eaton and previously Trea Turner.
Carroll should know about those of “wreaker of havoc” types of players as well as his personal knowledge of the Kansas City Royals because Carroll finished his career with the Royals a year before they went to that 2014 World Series. Carroll was the ultimate Swiss Army Knife playing every position including pitching to a 0.00 ERA, all outfield positions, every infield position except 1st base, and he would have played 1st base if they asked him. Carroll was predominantly a middle infielder and had sneaky speed and hit for average at .290 and over four years in his career!
In his playing days, Carroll weighed in at 175 pounds and is 5’10” and was not taller than many players but did have a slight height advantage over Adam Eaton. Size does not matter to some General Managers, but the odds to make a team is a long-shot when you are under 6 feet.
“There’s a flow to a team,” Jamey Carroll said. “There are guys who are run producers and guys who are run scorers. You need somebody on base. Somebody to work pitch counts. You need somebody to have good at-bats. You need somebody to be a distraction on the bases. You saw with the [2014-2015] Royals running the bases. You have a guy on first who steals second and there’s your double. It’s not a double on the stat sheet power numbers or on your slugging percentage, but it’s like a double. Now there’s your pressure.”
Carroll discussed his toughest times playing the infield was when you had the back-to-back speed guys who could test the infield defense and pitching.
“One of the most stressful times that I used to be on the field was playing 3rd base [for the Expos] and the Marlins had Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre were 1-2 [during their World Series season in 2003] and one of them was on first base and steal 2nd, I didn’t know if the next guy was going bunt, fake bunt, steal 3rd, as it used to cause me a lot of stress,” Jamey Carroll recalled. “I can see that working with [the Nationals] Adam Eaton and Trea Turner at the top of the line-up. That’s how you play the game of baseball.”
When looking at Adam Eaton and Trea Turner, Jamey Carroll knows that he gives them extra credit for what doesn’t show up in traditional stats. He feels the way they can cause havoc that “It gives the guy a voice and a value, and adds to a well-rounded team.” In Carroll’s job with the Pirates, he acknowledged they have a prospect named Adam Frazier who debuted last year and is cast in that same mold. Frazier is 5’10” and is that gritty player who has some speed and gets on base and can play multiple positions.
Speed and body size was an issue when Trea Turner was playing on youth teams and even trying to get drafted out of high school.
“[Trea] has always had to prove he has belonged at every level,” Donna Turner (Trea’s mother) said. “I knew he belonged and would produce.”
The same for Adam Eaton. His road to baseball was not always easy for a 5’8″ player who has been mistaken as a guy trying to sneak into the player’s clubhouse. Eaton and Turner can share their stories of showing they belong.
“My whole life, I was told I was too small,” Adam Eaton said. “I could never play outfield in the big leagues. I could never play center field in the big leagues. I could never lead off.”
As far as the standard statistics, they do not show the real value of a player like Turner or Eaton who have baseball intangibles that do not get calculated in the standard stats. Jamey Carroll told us the same thing, and Adam Eaton has his thoughts on the statistics.
“I don’t even know what slugging percentage is,” Adam Eaton said if you believe that. “I don’t follow that. I think it’s people from Harvard that want jobs and want to create jobs and stats. Honestly, I don’t put much emphasis in any of that. I let my eyes tell me what to do…I’m going to go with my gut. For me that’s telltale of a good baseball player. You can look at all the stats and all the sabermetrics that you want, but realistically it’s your heart and understanding the game and understanding body language with what you think is best.”
Adam Eaton will speak his mind, and many Nationals fans will appreciate that. As Jamey Carroll told us that getting your single and stealing second is like a double but does not show up in slugging percentage, and we told him that we adjusted the stats to reflect that. It’s a good reason Adam Eaton might not care less about slugging percentage, but let us once again look at the statistics and adjust for steals, caught stealing, and forcing errors, and see how Turner and Eaton looked in their 2016 stats.
Trea Turner: Adjusted OPS:
Adam Eaton: Adjusted OPS: