ATLANTA -- Each day, Adam Eaton says his left knee feels better nearly a year after having ACL surgery. He has been proving how healthy he is at the plate, but in the third inning of Wednesday afternoon's 7-1 loss to the Braves, he did so in the field.Eaton made
ATLANTA -- Each day, Adam Eaton says his left knee feels better nearly a year after having ACL surgery. He has been proving how healthy he is at the plate, but in the third inning of Wednesday afternoon's 7-1 loss to the Braves, he did so in the field.
Eaton made a spectacular diving catch to rob Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies of extra bases, going full extension to make a catch at the warning track and earning a nod of approval from right-hander Max Scherzer on the mound.
"That was awesome," Scherzer said. "We were kind of giving the gap, daring them to hit it there, and that just shows you -- Eaton's got some range. To be able to go out there and make a diving catch like that, that's a heck of an effort. So when your teammates are doing that, you want to bring that kind of effort back and show it to them."
Eaton laid out for a four-star catch as rated by Statcast™ on a play that had just a 46 percent catch probability. Eaton is still getting used to playing left field regularly, but this route was nearly perfect, and he likely saved a run after Ender Inciarte earned a leadoff walk. Eaton needed to run about 93 feet and covered 98 feet, but the ball hung up in the air for about 5.3 seconds, giving him time to track the ball and dive at the last second.
"Unbelievable," manager Dave Martinez said. "It was an amazing catch. I thought when he hit it, 'Oh that's gonna not be good.' What a great play."
The Nationals believe they can have perhaps the best defensive starting outfield in team history, thanks to the combination of Eaton, Michael A. Taylor and Bryce Harper. During his last full healthy season in 2016, Eaton had 18 outs above average and he made 21 four- or five-star catches, both of which ranked third in MLB behind Inciarte and Billy Hamilton.
And so far Eaton continues to prove he is healthy and capable of being a huge difference maker for the Nationals this year.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.