Newly minted Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez made it clear that he is already considering his line-up construction. Martinez wants to take advantage of Adam Eaton’s prowess for getting on-base followed by the speedy and pesky Trea Turner who can be a dynamic duo like they were to begin the 2017 season when Eaton’s OBP was a healthy .393 and that does not even include the 3 errors that Eaton forced on the opposing defense.
Many people forget that Trea Turner is just 24-years-old with just over 750 career at-bats. His approach will mature at the plate. When Adam Eaton was 24-years-old, he was a part-time player with a .314 OBP.
There are many advantages of leading-off with Adam Eaton. There are also many advantages with Trea Turner at the top-of-the-line-up by utilizing Trea’s world-class speed and opening up holes for Adam Eaton who could be a big plus at the top of the line-up. With Trea on-base, he immediately changes the pitcher’s repertoire to more fastballs where Eaton the last four seasons has hit .319 against sinkers and .310 against the four-seamer versus only .217 against curveballs and .253 against sliders. Eaton can pepper the hole that opens up between the 2nd baseman and the 1st baseman as a left-handed batter as the opposing 1st baseman would be holding Trea Turner on 1st base.
Looking at the past two seasons of Eaton’s spray charts, there is an advantage to opening up holes for him:
Most Nationals fans seem to agree with Davey Martinez on leading-off with Eaton. Here is one piece of excellent analysis to lead-off with Adam Eaton:
“I like Eaton batting 1st. He has a knack for fouling off quality pitches, and gives batters behind him [the chance to] see a pitcher’s repertoire. He may not steal as many bases as Trea, but he is a pesky base runner and is good at distracting the pitcher. Plus he is better at stealing 1st than Trea, as well as going 1st to 3rd on a single. I think Trea will get better pitches to hit with Eaton on base because of his peskiness. So for now, I see Eaton batting leadoff.” — H. Weiner 12/28/17 http://disq.us/p/1ovx8wz
Here are the Nationals current roster’s stats from 2017 and just add in the newly acquired Matt Adams who slashed .274 /.319/ .522/ .841 last year.
When we spoke to former Nationals “havoc wreaker” Jamey Carroll, he gave us his thoughts on the batters at the top of the line-up.
“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. 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. When you have a guy on first who steals second [base], 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 in the same line-up, Jamey Carroll knows that he wants to give them extra credit for what doesn’t show up in traditional stats. He feels that the way they can cause havoc that “It gives the guy a voice and a value, and adds to a well-rounded team.”
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 and 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 see how Turner did in adjusting his 2017 stats just for forced errors.
Trea Turner forced 10 errors last season and if those were all scored as hits then Trea would have batted over .308 with a .360 OBP. All of a sudden the difference between looking at how Trea gets on-base and Eaton’s is not as large. On top of that, Baseball-Reference.com is very bullish on Turner in 2018 as they project him to a .349 OBP.
It is food for thought for Dave Martinez to consider when he writes up his line-up card, and you would also expect Davey to experiment different line-ups in the regular season to come up with the perfect line-up for the post-season.