Last off-season, in arguably the most heavily criticized move in team history, the Nats traded for Adam Eaton. They gave up three of their top pitching prospects, but they believed he could be a difference maker at the top of the lineup for years to come.
Eaton got off to a tremendous start to the season, quickly silencing his doubters. He and Turner formed a dynamic duo at the top of the lineup, leading the way in one of the most potent lineups in the league.
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Unfortunately, Eaton’s first season in the nation’s capital came to an abrupt end in late-April when he stepped on first base awkwardly, tearing up various parts of his leg. There was talk of him possibly returning for the postseason, but his only contributions were as a supportive teammate in the dugout.
Now, nearly a year after his gruesome injury, Eaton is ready to return.
Michael Taylor did a phenomenal job of filling in during Eaton’s absence, and earned himself a starting job in 2018. Although Eaton played a solid center field throughout April, he will now primarily play left field. This move may be for the better, considering Eaton’s defensive metrics are better as a corner outfielder.
Although Turner has the potential to be an elite leadoff hitter, Dave Martinez has named Eaton the Nats’ 2018 leadoff man. This is the correct decision at this point in their careers, because Eaton sees a lot more pitches. Turner certainly has the speed, but is not a prototypical leadoff hitter.
If Eaton is able to return to form in 2018, he will be an excellent leadoff hitter and left fielder. However, there are concerns since he has not played in nearly a year. Only time will tell what he is able to produce.
It’s a shame Eaton got hurt last year, because he was off to an outstanding start, but he is more than capable of returning to form and putting together a fantastic season. If this is the case, he could lead the Nats on a deep postseason run.
If the Nats are able to finally exorcise their postseason demons in 2018, it will take a total team effort. However, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Koda Glover, Trea Turner, and Adam Eaton are five potential x-factors to keep an eye on.