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2015 league leaders: Adam Eaton, runs

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He doesn't drive himself in, but he can still top the leaderboard if he can stay on the field

When the cockleshell shatters and the hammers batter down the door, you'd better run.
When the cockleshell shatters and the hammers batter down the door, you'd better run.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

600 at-bats.

Last season, a mere 23 major league players hit this lofty (albeit arbitrary) total. The season before, 37 players hit the mark. 27 in 2012. Generally, when you get sent up there that many times, you are having yourself a pretty fine season. Of the 23 guys who managed that total in 2014, only Elvis Andrus had what I would consider a down year.

The complete list and their hit total:

  • Jose Altuve 660/225
  • Michael Brantley 611/200
  • Miguel Cabrera 611/191
  • Ian Kinsler 684/188
  • Ben Revere 601/184
  • Denard Span 610/184
  • Howie Kendrick 617/181
  • Adam Jones 644/181
  • Hunter Pence 650/180
  • Casey McGehee 616/177
  • Anthony Rendon 613/176
  • Dee Gordon 609/176
  • Freddie Freeman 607/175
  • Jose Reyes 610/175
  • James Loney 600/174
  • Mike Trout 602/173
  • Albert Pujols 633/172
  • Alexei Ramirez 622/170
  • Nelson Cruz 613/166
  • Elvis Andrus 619/163
  • Evan Longoria 624/158
  • Yoenis Cespedes 600/156
  • Josh Donaldson 608/155

Now 600 ABs is a weird thing to shoot for since walks are thrown out the window for at-bat stats, but I think it's a nice round number that can frame this idea. Of course, it isn't only elite players that hit this milestone. Casey McGehee did his thing, which is pretty good, I guess. Elvis was given the benefit of the doubt, stayed at the top of the order due to lack of other options, and doesn't like to take a walk. Pretty much a perfect storm to get his 600 despite being mostly bad. He was demoted as Leonys Martin emerged late in the season. In 2013, Alejandro De Aza hit the big 600, and Alex Rios managed to do the same in 2012 for our White Sox. While the Sand Dancer had a nice year, Alejandro's was just OK.

Yesterday we saw a pretty good discussion here about projections and how the White Sox seem to be low-balled across the board. Part of the problem, as far as I can tell, is that none of them foresee Eaton getting all that many ABs. He is going to be leading off, on a team I expect to score a lot of runs compared to the rest of the league.

The most sensible AB projection for Spanky that I could find comes from Clay Davenport. He has him at 583. Bold, projecting almost 100 more than last season, but also very logical all things considered. Check out his site: He has the Sox finishing third in the Central, but also has them scoring the most runs in it, and second overall trailing only Boston in all of MLB. The third place comes into play because he unfortunately sees them giving up only a handful of runs fewer than they score.

Eaton's playing time estimates across various projection systems:

Davenport 583
ZIPS 576
Bill James 537
Rotochamp 527
Steamer 514
CAIRO

476

Collectively, they all seem to think he will be a good player -- OBP up around .350, around 50 walks, slugging just shy of .400. However, taking away those ABs bumps him out of the "stud" range where I think he can be. As the headline says, I think he can lead the league in runs. He just needs to stay on the field and get those 600 ABs. I'll even settle for ABs plus walks to get there.

If he can maintain that .300 average from last season, I'm thinking 615/185 is a very real possibility, with about 65 walks and 115 runs. Mike Trout led the majors with 115 runs last season. Eaton won't have the luxury of knocking himself in 36 times like the league MVP, so it's a bit of a long shot to pass up the Angel, but I don't think its out of the realm of possibility that our guy crosses the plate 100 times. Why can't he do it more than anyone else?

Only seven guys topped 100 runs scored last season. It's a different theater than it was as recently as five years ago, when twice as many players scored in the triple digits. Regardless, I think the Sox can drive Spanky home 100 times this year. If he can stay healthy and flirt with double digits in home runs, he should be at or near the top of that leaderboard.

Star-divide

I was also going to talk about how I think Jose Abreu can lead the league in total bases at the very least, too, but that can be it's own little post next week before the season starts. T-Ball practice ran long and the seventh annual South Side Sox fantasy draft happened last night, so I'm all baseball'd out for the time being. That almost never happens. This must be the calm before the regular season storm dominates my life for the next seven months.

Lastly, let me be the first to publicly congratulate larry on his new gig with the White Sox. I'll miss his minor league coverage we get here at South Side Sox, but I am damn proud of you, friend. Good luck on your new endeavor. You earned it.