About a week or so ago, the BIG news (insert joke here) was the arrival of Adam Eaton to the desert. Eaton only hit .375, scored 130 runs, and stole 44 bases in the minors prior to his call up, and earning the MVP award. Not bad, eh?
Well, anyways, people see those numbers, and most are expecting one of two things: extreme regression, to the point where he's an ideal fourth outfielder, or the other, which is to keep up the pace, potentially allowing us to have our first "true" traditional lead-off hitter. But what is Eaton's most likely future going to resemble?
Look no further to New York Yankees left fielder, Brett Gardner. What?! A Yankee. Yes, I said it (or technically wrote it, but that's neither here nor there). Hear me out though. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense (at least to me it does).
Let's start out by physique. Adam Eaton is notably small, standing only 5'8 and weighing around 185 lbs. He throws and bats left handed like his counter-part.Gardner, while not as small, is 5'10 and he too, weighs roughly 185 lbs. So they're both around the same size, so what?
Well, at first, the only connection there were between the two was their physique, type of style they play (spark plugs and explosive as I've heard both been called), and position, but when I started looking at their numbers, they're strikingly similar.
Let's first take a look at Eaton's numbers. Looking at Eaton's BB% in Reno this year, it was a career low at 9.8%, compared to his career average around 12% beforehand (guessing it was him being more aggressive). His K rate for Reno again was a career low at 12.1% compared to a career average of roughly 14%. And last his BABIP is absurd with his lowest recording of .345, and ridiculously .432 BABIP in Reno this year.
Now that we took a look at Eaton's numbers, let's check out Brett Gardner's stats. His BB% is 11% since breaking in the Majors, but in the minors beforehand, roughly 13% in the minors. His K % in the majors is 16.8%, with his minor league numbers roughly around the same. And last his BABIP in the minors were no less than .326 in any level, and that translated to a .319 BABIP.
So what's my point?
Well, Eaton and Gardner are comparable, that's my point. So before, I make my "official projection" of Eaton, allow me to remind you that there is differences between the two.
Eaton is projected to have more power, hence a greater slugging percentage, and more home run power. Eaton also does have a leg-up on arm strength, as he has a stronger arm than Gardner. Gardner on the other hand, has gazelle-like speed which will lead to more stolen bases and therefore have a greater outfield range. Both though, should be similar in walk rates, runs, and BABIP.
Now, Gardner has also has produced a 15.1 WAR in four seasons (yes, it includes this injury-shortened season which he only played 9 games). In Gardner's full season in 2010, he produced a 6.1 WAR, compared to stints in 09-10 where he combined a 3.5 WAR. Now do I say Eaton will be the next Gardner, and produce a 6 WAR in his first full season? Not likely, but I wouldn't pass it by him.
Now here's my prediction for Eaton over a HEALTHY FULL SEASON.
.290/.365/.480 slash line with double digit homeruns like 11 (no more than 14 though), 80 runs, 25 stolen bases, 45 rbis, with a WAR of 4+.
So who do you think Eaton's career will be like? Or who's numbers his will resemble?
PS: So yea, this is my first kind of posting on the fanposts portion here at the 'Pit, so forgive me a bit. I know my writing isn't as great as the rest of you guys (I'm still in college xD), but hey I tried! And you all have a great one!