Robin Ventura is grateful to have Adam Eaton on his team.
The White Sox manager had high praise for his 27-year-old outfielder, moments after he made a potential game-saving catch in the White Sox 6-2 win over the Oakland A's on Saturday.
"He's a good outfielder. I know right now he's probably the best right fielder in the game," Ventura said. "For us, we asked him to kind of switch over every once in a while, to center field, depending on the matchups."
Eaton's .989 fielding percentage this season ranks fifth among American League right fielders and ninth among major league right fielders.
Since his arrival on the South Side in 2014, Eaton's defense has always been strong. Quietly, he's posted a 5.8 WAR per 162 games since joining the White Sox, according to High Heat Stats MLB.
Eaton credits bench coach Rick Renteria and first base coach Daryl Boston for helping him transition to right field while elevating his game.
"You can sit here and go over all these things that you need to be ready for a game and where we’re going to play guys and what to expect as far as how we’re pitching to him and what we think is going to happen," Ventura said. "When you get that, you have a little more confidence going out there.
"Really for me, the credit goes to (Eaton) for being able to accept going over to right and kind of go for himself and become good at it. And to be as good as he’s been, that’s been the biggest part."
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
When the White Sox signed center fielder Austin Jackson to a one-year, $5 million deal in the offseason, an adjustment was inevitable in the outfield.
In spring training, Ventura experimented by having Eaton move to right field, and it stuck when the regular season began.
For a guy who, entering the season, had only played four career games in right field, it's turned out quite nicely for Eaton and his club.
"Being in right I think he just gets better jumps. There’s something about being able to use your arms strength and things like that," Ventura said. "In right, I don’t know if it’s the fearlessness of going into a corner. Either going back on a wall or going over by the stands.
"He just seems to have a little bit more of that in right field where he can get to a ball, stop and be able to turn around. (Eaton) has better throws to home plate just angle wise. Sometimes that fits the eye a little bit better in center field. For me that’s been the biggest thing. He just gets really good jumps on those."