Adam Eaton knows a thing or two about being a part of a winning team. He's got the jewelry to back it up.
Eaton's four years in between his stints on the South Side featured a World Series win with the Washington Nationals in 2019, part of the allure of bringing him back for another go-round. That winning experience figured to be a positive for a Chicago White Sox group trying to win their own championship.
We're moving into the portion of the season when it's no longer early, the hotter summer months on deck. So after nearly 50 games of watching this White Sox team, what does the world champion see? Does what's going on here remind him of what went on in the nation's capital two years ago?
"I see a lot of parallels," Eaton told NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday. "The talent's definitely there. I don't think that's ever been a question. ... What really separates you, especially going down the stretch, is playing consistent baseball and getting timely hits.
"If you do everything the right way, you go about your business the right way, those things will come. I think as long as we play really, really clean defensively, we're going to have a shot."
The White Sox are obviously in a much different place than Eaton's Nationals were at this point in their championship season. The White Sox are a first-place club as they play out the final days of the season's second month. The Nationals, famously, got off to a slow start, nine games under .500 at the end of May and in fourth place in the NL East standings as late as June 16. But they caught fire during the summer, going 19 games over .500 in the second half before marching to a championship as a wild card team.
The White Sox have a different path in mind, one that involves winning their division, something that has gone from possible to expected thanks to some recently dominant play against their AL Central rivals and a horrendous start for the Minnesota Twins. Of course, they'll take a trophy any way they can get it, and getting there along the Nationals' route would surely be just fine.
The Nationals boasted an eye-popping starting rotation that season, with a big three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin helping them power their way to the World Series. It's not hard to see some combination of Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodón and Dylan Cease doing something similar. It's been the starting staff that's carried the biggest load for the White Sox so far.
When thinking about young stars from that Nationals team like Juan Soto and Victor Robles, it's easy to draw parallels to the likes of Yoán Moncada and Andrew Vaughn, and certainly Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert should they return in time for a playoff push. Veterans like Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick and Eaton? José Abreu and Tim Anderson and Yasmani Grandal and ... well, Eaton.
While the World Series talk will never go away — the team made sure of that by clearly setting preseason expectations — any White Sox fan will rush to tell you that things haven't been all good so far this season. And the White Sox would certainly agree with you, even as they sit in first place.
But Eaton knows from his days in D.C. that a championship team is made over the course of an entire season, and the toughest days remain ahead for the White Sox, the ones that will inform just how long their journey will last in 2021.
"We've played good baseball, but I don't think we've played our best," he said. "There's been some opportunities missed, but the beauty of it is we're learning from it. We've got a good team here. The talent's there. But August is yet to be here. July is yet to be here.
"I think that's really where you find out what type of team you have. So far, so good. We've played good baseball but not great baseball, and we're in a good position where we're at."