After Trea Turner tweaked a hamstring, Adam Eaton will get to leadoff a few games for the Washington Nationals. The numbers agree with the move.
Saturday will go down as one of the worst games in franchise history. Jeremy Guthrie—on his birthday no less—allowed 11 runs in 2/3rds of an inning as the Nats rolled over and played dead in a 17-3 shellacking to the Philadelphia Phillies.
If you want to hear the brutal skinny, below is Ricky Keeler’s take on the game:
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The big news of the night—topping Guthrie—came in the top of the first when Turner singled to start the game. With Eaton up, Turner stole second, but gathered himself after beating the throw.
Two batters later, Daniel Murphy singled into the hole in right and Turner stopped at third despite being waived home. Third Base coach Bob Henley asked what was wrong and Turner pointed to a hamstring. That was the night for Turner.
With Turner sidelined for a few games, probably three, the red-hot Eaton moves to the top of the lineup. While Turner struggled out of the gate, Eaton exploded.
When Eaton came over his winter from the Chicago White Sox, most expected him to leadoff with the speedy Turner hitting second. An amazing Grapefruit League catapulted Turner into first with Eaton either batting second in the order against righties or either sixth or seventh with lefties.
The change to playing shortstop at a major-league level along with the pomp and circumstance of two home openers slowed the hot Turner. Eaton thrived playing real baseball.
After five games, Eaton has six walks, two doubles and a homer. The batting average says .250, but his on-base percentage is .455 and OPS at 1.017. When adjusted, his OPS+ is 170. His six runs scored leads the team.
With the White Sox last year, Eaton led off 119 times and hit second 30. His numbers were better out of the two hole, slashing .314/.379/458, but his slash line leading off was okay at .276/.360/.421. An OPS of .780 is nothing to sneeze at.
Baker can move Jayson Werth—that fan favorite in Philadelphia—up to second and can protect Bryce Harper and Murphy while allowing Eaton to see enough pitches to steal a base. Eaton has two steals on the season, one behind Turner.
Although Turner should get the spot back when his hamstring is okay, a hot couple games by Eaton may make Baker think twice and keep Eaton at the top. At .372, the Nats have the second-highest OBP in the National League but are seventh in runs after five games.
Not allowing 17 runs in a game again will help, but for those of you wanting to see Eaton lead off, here is your chance.