With the likely departure of Bryce Harper, other players on offense have to step up for the Washington Nationals. Adam Eaton should be one of those players.
Adam Eaton has had an injury-plagued first two seasons with the Washington Nationals. Mercifully, he was able to stay healthy for the second half of the 2018 season and could make a huge difference to the lineup next season.
With Bryce Harper likely to be plying his trade elsewhere this season, the starting outfield appears to be set. Eaton will lineup with wunderkind Juan Soto, and probably wunderkind Victor Robles to form one of the better threesomes in the league.
While all the talk is about the youngsters and how they could potentially light it up, don’t you dare forget about Eaton. Remember, the one who finished with MVP votes before being traded to the nation’s capital.
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We saw a glimpse of that guy before he tore his ACL at the start of the 2017 season. He slashed .297/.393/.462 in 23 games his injury-shortened year with a pair of home runs as he looked to be well worth the steep price the team paid.
However, after the injuries, while he hit for a slightly higher average, his power was sapped last season. Overall, the slugging percentage dropped from that .462 figure down to .411 in 2018. But in August, his last full month as a full-time starter before Robles’ call-up, he was able to slug .443 with two homers, meaning he may have finally been getting fully healthy again.
With a full offseason to recover now, it’s entirely possible that he’s going to be firing on all cylinders. If he is, then that’s going to go a long way to helping the lineup as a whole replace Harper’s production next season.
For example, in Steamer’s pre-season projections for player production, Adam Eaton ranks 16th among NL outfielders with a 2.5 WAR. As with all projections, they are somewhat conservative, but you can compare him to some of his peers and how the statistics project he will do. For example, Eaton ranks above the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Charlie Blackmon, and even his teammate Robles.
As things stand, Eaton will likely be atop the order, if not second in the order with Trea Turner complimenting him. With Turner’s maturation at the plate that has helped increase his on-base skills, those two should be constantly creating traffic for the potent bats of Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman on a regular basis.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez‘s offseason motto is centered around the “little things” this winter. Eaton is exactly the sort of player who is going to be key to that philosophy by getting on base, playing smart and displaying good defense in right field. 2019 really will be the year Nats fans fall in love with him, if they aren’t already.
The Washington Nationals should be pleasantly surprised with the performance of Adam Eaton next season. The tasters from years past are setting up for a season in which he can hopefully carry the team back to the postseason.