KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Adam Eaton has not only been the White Sox’ top player based on wins above replacement this season (6.0 according to Baseball Reference), he has been a model of consistency as well, from month to month posting remarkably similar numbers in almost all offensive categories.
To best summarize the outfielder’s steady play look no further than his OPS in each month (on-base and slugging percentage combined) at .762, .751, .758, .777 and .791 from April through August. This month, it’s at 1.058.
“It’s been pretty consistent, for sure,’’ Eaton said Friday. “Twenty points more average-wise would be great, but you don’t like to have peaks and valleys like I’ve had in the past.’’
The difference this year? Being a family man, he said.
“I credit my son, to be honest with you,’’ he said. “He put a little more life perspective on things and stopped the mental roller coaster for me, so to speak.’’
Eaton and wife Katie, a former softball pitching star at Miami (Ohio) University where Eaton starred in baseball, became first-time parents to son Brayden in April.
“To come home and see his smiling face and have that kind of rock and family togetherness at home has helped me mentally and in turn helped my on the baseball field,’’ Eaton said.
“Baseball is important to me but at the end of the day my wife and kid and health are the most important. Before having him I didn’t have that perspective and everything that went on at the ball field I kind of drug home with me. Now when I see him, whether he’s smiling, crying, pooping or drooling, that’s all that matters.’’
Injuries limited Eaton to 123 games in 2014, his first with the Sox, and he played 153 last season. This season he has missed two starts, one for Brayden’s birth. Therein lies another reason for the consistency, which Eaton attributes to reeling in a gung-ho, wall-crashing outfield style that beat his body up in the past.
“Learning how to stay healthy, knowing when to push it and when to be smart and not killing yourself,’’ he said.
Aside from his offense – he took an eight-game hitting streak into Friday’s game against the Royals along with a .285/.366/.431 slash line, 13 homers, 26 doubles, an AL-high nine triples, 55 RBI and 12 stolen bases – Eaton has built a strong case to be the Sox’ first outfielder since Ken Berry in 1970 to win a Gold Glove.
Morneau still out
Designated hitter Justin Morneau missed a fourth straight start with a stiff neck. Morneau, 35, came back from elbow surgery to play for the Sox during the second half and the former MVP “can still hit,’’ manager Robin Ventura said, but this setback, albeit minor, might shed some light on the question for Morneau about whether he’ll want to play again next season.
“He can hit. He can still play,’’ Ventura said. “There’s no question about that. If he can physically withstand it, he’s going to be valuable to somebody.’’
This and that
Rookie shortstop Tim Anderson also did not start.
“Just a day off,’’ Ventura said.
*Leury Garcia, a September call-up, started in center field. Ventura said two other call-ups, outfielder Jason Coats and Kevan Smith, might play in the second game of the series Saturday.