The 2017 season was a short and disappointing stint for Adam Eaton’s first year with the Washington Nationals. After being dealt from the Chicago White Sox during the offseason, expectations were high for the 29-year old outfielder. But just 23 games into the season, it ended just like that.
On an infield blooper, Eaton landed awkwardly on the first base bag to beat out the throw and reportedly heard a pop. Soon after, the worst was confirmed. Eaton suffered a torn ACL in his left knee along with a torn meniscus and sprained ankle. The injury knocked him out the entire season and it was a crushing blow to the Nationals’ outfield, who dealt with injuries to Eaton, Bryce Harper, and Michael Turner. Through it all, the Nationals still went on to post a 97-65 record but fell to the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.
Following nine months of extensive rehabilitation, Eaton is on pace to return for Opening Day. He told the Washington Post, “We still have quite a bit of time until Opening Day, and that’s our focus…Unless something unforeseen happens, I think that’s easily attainable.”
The Nationals surely hope that’s the case. They sent top prospects to acquire Eaton from Chicago after receiving MVP votes in an impressive statistical year — .284/.362/.428. Eaton was on pace for another successful season before injuries took their tolls.
As far as it’s concerned, this is Eaton’s first major knee injury. The timing of the injury allows him to be ready to provide the Nationals plenty of production in 2018. The NL East possessed some of the worst pitching performances last season, with three of three of the five teams in the division (Miami, Atlanta, New York) posting a 4.70 or higher combined ERA. That’s music to the ears of the Nationals’ starting lineup.
Assuming Eaton continues to recover heading into the 2017 season, he’s set to start in left field for the Nationals. While we might not see the same burst coming off the bag in terms of stolen bases, there’s no reason to believe Eaton can’t put together another productive season with the bat. He’s been an above average talent when it comes to OBP and OPS. Not to mention, Eaton’s WAR rating continually ranks among the best in the MLB.
Expect similar production to years past and Eaton can provide a consistent middle of the order batter in your fantasy lineup this season. Watch Dr. Selene Parekh discuss ACL tears below: