Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton returns to the Nats in 2019 looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2018 season.
In 2017, he batted a career-high 125 wRC+ before tearing his ACL on April 28.
Last season, he batted a similar 123 wRC+, but underwent ankle surgery in May and missed a large chunk of the season.
He is now approximately two years removed from the ACL surgery, and the Nationals desperately need Eaton to stay healthy.
One area in which Eaton may contribute more is on the basepaths.
Eaton has only stolen 12 bases in his time with the Nationals. Now that his knee is, presumably, 100% healthy, can we see Eaton get the green light more often?
With the White Sox, Eaton stole approximately 16 bases per season in his three years in the Windy City.
Manager Davey Martinez is on the record saying he wants shortstop Trea Turner to attempt 70 stolen bases. Can the same principle apply to Eaton?
Last season, the Nationals ranked 5th in the MLB in stolen bases (119). The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox ranked #3 with 125. Could stealing bases at opportune times be a key to success?
The projection systems on Fangraphs.com peg Eaton for 10-12 stolen bases in 2019. Any increase will be a welcome addition to the Nationals offense.
Regardless of what Eaton does on the basepaths, Nats fans know how good he is at getting there in the first place.
Eaton recorded an OBP of .393 and .394 in his first two seasons.
His power also spiked in 2017, recorded a .462 slugging percentage before his injury.
It is fair to say the power of Mighty Mouse is unexpected but more than welcome. The Nationals have the big boppers in their lineup to hit for extra bases. If Eaton can do that at the top of the lineup, the rest of the National League better watch out.
If Eaton can put together a healthy season, there’s no doubt that he can compete for an N.L. All-Star bid. Whether he can stay healthy is a question only time can answer.